Gospel text (Jn 5,1-3.5-16):
There was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now, by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there is a pool (called Bethzatha in Hebrew) surrounded by five galleries. In these galleries lay a multitude of sick people -blind, lame and paralyzed. There was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him, and since he knew how long this man had been lying there, He said to him, «Do you want to be healed?». And the sick man answered, «Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; so while I am still on my way, another steps down before me». Jesus then said to him, «Stand up, take your mat and walk». And at once the man was healed, and he took up his mat and walked.
Now that day happened to be the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had just been healed, «It is the Sabbath and the Law doesn't allow you to carry your mat». He answered them, «The one who healed me said to me: Take up your mat and walk». They asked him, «Who is the one who said to you: Take up your mat and walk?». But the sick man had no idea who it was who had cured him, for Jesus had slipped away among the crowd that filled the place. Afterwards Jesus met him in the Temple court and told him, «Now you are well; don't sin again, lest something worse happen to you». And the man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. So the Jews persecuted Jesus because He performed healings like that on the Sabbath.
«Jesus saw him, and since he knew how long this man had been lying there, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’»
Fr. Àngel CALDAS i Bosch
(Salt, Girona, Spain)
Today, Saint John speaks of the parable of the pool of Bethzatha. It rather looked like the waiting room of a traumathology hospital. «There lay a multitude of sick people-blind, lame and paralyzed» (Jn 5:3). Jesus went up there.
It's rather curious!: Jesus manages to be found always in the middle of some problem. Wherever He goes, there is always somebody to be “liberated”; there He is when it comes to making people happy. The Pharisees, instead, were concerned only over the fact that it was Saturday. Their bad faith was killing their spirit. Sin's nasty features were showing through their eyes. There's no worse deaf man than he who does not want to hear.
The protagonist of the miracle had been disabled for thirty eight long years. «Do you want to be healed?» (Jn 5:6), Jesus says to him. He had since long ago been struggling in the void for he had not found Jesus. At long last, he had found the Man. The five galleries of the pool of Bethzatha boomed out upon hearing the Master's voice: «Stand up, take your mat and walk» (Jn 5:8). It was just a matter of an instant.
Jesus Christ's voice is the voice of God. Everything was anew with that old disabled man, spent by dejection. Much later, Saint John Crisostom will say that in Bethzatha pool sick people cured their bodies, while in the Baptism those same sick cure their soul; over there, one only sick could eventually be cured, every now and then. Baptism, however, cures always and everybody. In both cases God's power is evidenced through water.
That helpless disabled man, close to the water, does not remind you of our own helplessness to do good? How can we dare solving by ourselves that which has a supernatural scope? Don't you see, every day, around you, a big crowd of disabled ones that are “moving” themselves a lot, while being totally unable to get rid of their lack of freedom? Sin paralyzes man, grows him old, kills him... We have to fix our eyes in Jesus. We need him —his Grace— to plunge us into the waters of prayer, of confession, of the opening of our spirit. You and I may be eternal disabled persons, or, on the contrary, bearers of his light instruments.