Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the grace and healing that all of us receive from the Lord, Who alone is the source of all our hope and inspiration, grace and strength amidst the darkness, challenges and hardships of this world. The Lord our Saviour and our God has shown us His ever enduring love and patience with us, offering us freely and most generously the gift of His love and mercy despite our sinfulness and stubbornness in refusing His love and mercy. The Lord has always been patient and kind towards us, as we are all His beloved people and children, who are truly precious to Him. None of us can be separated from His love unless we ourselves have rejected Him and resisted Him all the way to the very end, as how some of our predecessors had done.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel about the vision of the Temple of God in Heaven, the great Sanctuary and the place of the Holy Presence of God, which represents the Lord’s glory and presence, and from which came forth a great river and flood of water that went down from the side of the Temple, which provided life for many of the things that dwell in the water, and which brought forth life to spring forth from wherever it touched. This vision of Ezekiel is a reminder that from God comes healing and hope for all of us, as we see the life-giving water of the great river springing forth from the Temple of God’s Presence. He is truly the source of our strength and redemption, and from Whom we shall once again be reconciled and be led back to His most loving embrace and to the path towards eternal life and true joy.
In the Gospel passage today, we then heard a rather similar experience and story linked to that of our first reading, when we heard of the account of the healing that came upon a paralysed man who was lying by the Pool of Bethzatha, by the Lord Jesus, Who came to him and took pity on him. That man had been paralysed for a very long period of thirty-eight years, which is a truly long time, and surpassing even perhaps the lifetime of many of us here. He had suffered all those while and no one lifted a hand to help him. The link to the spring of the healing water in our first reading today is the Pool of Bethzatha itself, which according to the tradition and belief of the Jewish people, had a miraculous healing property, that as mentioned, when an Angel of God came down upon the water, the first person to touch the water would be healed.
It was then that the Lord came to the poor man, who had no one to help him for those thirty-eight years of paralysis, and went on to heal him and made him to be able to walk again. That was another Sabbath day that the Lord performed His miracle in, and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were quick to criticise and persecute the Lord for His continuous actions in healing and performing many good deeds on the Sabbath. Those people had misunderstood and misinterpreted the Law, treating the Law as a means for them to gain recognition and praise by others, as they imposed very difficult terms and tenets on the people of God, forcing them to practice the Law in the way that they had done. They prohibited every single actions on the Sabbath, even those deeds and actions that are good in purpose and can help others.
The Lord made it clear that in His actions in healing those sick people and others who suffered other maladies and troubles, that the Law was not made to be the lord over man, but instead, it was meant to help lead mankind back towards God and to help them to discover the truth about His love and ways. The Law itself was meant to help the people of God to rediscover the love that they ought to have for the Lord and the obedience and the effort that they should be spending in building a strong and genuine relationship with Him. It is also a reminder that as those whom God had loved and cared, and as His people, we should also show the same love, kindness and compassion on others around us. We should not act like those Pharisees and teachers of the Law who often took great pride in their own piety and supposed righteousness and faith, and who looked down on others and even persecuted those who disagreed with them and did not follow their way.
This is also a reminder that each one of us are sinners in need of God’s healing and mercy, without which we cannot find our way to the true joy and eternal life that we can find in God alone. As we have heard from the readings today, the Lord alone is the source of our Hope, healing and grace, and through Him, we have received the rich grace and blessing of His love, which He poured upon us most generously, even when we are still sinners and stubborn in our constant rebellion and refusal to listen to Him. He patiently led and guided us to Himself, sending His help and guidance to us in various ways, caring for all of us and calling on all of us to turn away from the path of sin and evil, showing us the sure path forward to eternal life and true joy with Him. He has come into our midst in the flesh, in the person of His own beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so that all may be saved through Him.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through this penitential season of Lent, let us ask ourselves if we are going to continue to live our lives in the way of worldliness and sin as we have often done, or whether we are able to make the commitment to embrace God and His path, turning away from sin and evil, and returning to the loving embrace of God. The Lord has freely offered us His love, compassionate mercy and forgiveness, and it is up to us whether we want to take up His offer or not. We cannot truly be forgiven unless we are willing to embrace God wholeheartedly, and to turn our backs against our past, sinful way of life. This is of course much easier said than done, but that does not mean that we should be discouraged and disheartened by the challenges and trials that we may have to face in being a disciple and follower of the Lord. Instead, this should spur us ever more to commit ourselves even more to God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of the time and opportunities that we have been given in the duration of this season of Lent so that we may endeavour to listen to God’s call deep in our hearts and minds, and open ourselves to Him coming into our midst, so that like the paralysed man by the Pool of Bethzatha, He may come to heal us from our wretched condition and our sinfulness. all of us are in need of God’s healing and mercy, as there is no cure for sin apart from God’s mercy. That is why we should humble ourselves and be contrite in our hearts, in regretting our many sins and wickedness, and strive so that we will no longer continue to harden our hearts against God, and that we may embrace wholly the love that God has always generously poured down upon us. Let the spring of God’s living water continue to wash over us, encouraging and inspiring us to live our lives in the best way possible, to do what He has wanted us to do.
May the Lord continue to be with us, and may He empower each and every one of us to persevere despite the many trials and hardships that we may have to face in the journey of our faith throughout our respective lives. May God continue to help us to go forth as His faithful and committed disciples, becoming the true beacons of His light and truth, that our every words, actions and deeds may inspire many others to come to the Lord, His salvation, truth and grace as well. May God bless us all and keep us in His love, through all time and always. May God bless our Lenten observance and time, and may He remain by our side, in this faithful journey we make. Amen.