Tuesday of the 4th Week of Lent
One of the joys of a priest is to baptize babies into the Catholic community. Water is the primary symbol of life, and for Christians it is the symbol of eternal life begun in baptism. These newborn Christians will have a life time of getting to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The gathering of parents, godparents and relatives offers an occasion for all to understand more fully the meaning of baptism. Each has an opportunity to renew their baptismal commitment to follow Jesus.
In the gospel today we see Jesus having compassion upon a sick man who has waited 38 year to be healed by the stirred water. Humanly speaking, it does not seem fair that this man had to wait so long. We are not told that Jesus healed everyone by the pool at Bethesda. But he singles out this one unfortunate cripple and in an instant changes his life forever. Not only is the man healed physically, but Jesus heals this man’s soul and puts him in right standing with God. He is “baptized” into Christ. Moreover, his dignity is restored with the Jewish community who looked down upon him as a sinner because of his sickness.
Once again Jesus breaks with Jewish tradition concerning work on the Sabbath, as if healing a person with the power of God is offensive to the Almighty. Elsewhere Jesus reminded the Jewish leaders that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27) Mercy and compassion are endearing qualities for us to emulate in reaching out to the sick and infirm.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP