Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Lent
(Ezekiel 47:1-9.12; John 5:1-16)
“...I think the river is a strong brown god,” T. S. Eliot wrote in his majestic poem, The Dry Salvages. John, the evangelist, would reverse the idea. The river is not a god, but God is like a river. In today’s first reading a river flows from its source in God’s Temple to not only grow every kind of nutritional and medicinal fruit but also to purify the oceans. The gospel then portrays Jesus with even greater healing power than the Temple river.
The paralytic at the Sheep Gate is as sorry a dolt as seen in the gospels. He cannot arrange a way to make use of the healing pool in the Temple precinct. When Jesus heals him on the Sabbath, the man reports the deed to Jesus’ enemies who are looking for something to indict him. Yet Jesus shows no regret in taking pity on him.
Nor does he regret showing pity to us. We may be wavering, even unfaithful. We may take him or put him low on our list of priorities. But he remains ready to forgive, to heal and to assist us. As Holy Week approaches, we want to recommit ourselves to follow him closely.