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FROM THE HEALING HAND OF JESUS

Father Francis's picture
Fourth Week of Lent

Ezek. 47:1-9,12 & John 5:1-3, 5-16.

The theme of life-giving water dominates the readings and texts of today’s Mass beginning with the Entrance Antiphon, “Come to the waters, all who thirst; though you have no money, come and drink with joy.”

What would we do without water? It plays such an important part of our lives. Water brings new growth to parched or desert soil. Ezekiel tells us, “Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails, they will bear fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.” Is this not a reference to the graces we receive from the Sacrament of Baptism and the other sacraments?

That was an extraordinary question Jesus asked the crippled man in today's Gospel, "Do you want to be healed?" The poor man had waited by the pool for 38 years to be cured. Of course he wanted to be healed to be able to walk! But Jesus wanted the man to ask for healing to teach us to ask for the things we need. Sometimes we don't ask God for certain things for which He would like us to ask.

When our repeated requests fail to achieve what we want our response is, 'God doesn't listen to my prayers.' But we could not be more wrong! We are God's children. He is a loving Father who listens to every one of our requests. If our prayers are not answered immediately or as we would want, it is not because God has not listened to us - it is because He has a good reason for not answering it. What we ask for may not be good for us. Or He may be trying us to test our perseverance, to keep us asking until the time is right. Whatever the reason our efforts are not wasted because asking God for things is a form of prayer.

Later Jesus met the man He had cured again and had another message for him. "Now you are well. Be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.” The “something worse" would have been the loss of his soul. What a tragedy it would have been if the man had been cured of his illness only to be crippled by the effect of sin! Jesus knows that spiritual sickness is far worse than any physical handicap.

This Gospel reminds us that we are all handicapped by sin which prevents us from living the full lives that God wants us to live. Recognising our impediment is the first step to recovery, but it is no use sitting around waiting for someone to lift us into the cleansing waters. We have to ask Jesus for help. He can cure us, for He wants us to remain healthy.

Acknowledging our sins in Confession is just the beginning of repentance. The hardest part is finding a remedy for our sins. This is where Jesus can help us. We must hear Him saying, "Do you want to be healed?", and like the sick man in the story we have to trust that He will heal us.

Lord Jesus, each of us must acknowledge that we are all sinners. Let us not wait for Your forgiveness but rush to Confession to experience the peace and joy of Your healing.

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