Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blog # 260 John 5

Blog # 260  John 5

Beginning today , the seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time,  July 29, 2012,  for five Sundays the Gospel readings will be consecutive passages from the SIXTH CHAPTER OF ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL.  We had been taking the Gospels of the previous Sundays in Ordinary Time this year from the Gospel of  Mark. After five weeks we will immediately return to Mark for our Gospal readings. This abrupt and unusual interruption in our readings from Mark and our concentration upon a single Chapter from  John for five consecutive weeks in itself would seem to invite us to discover something  especially important in John that the Church wishes to focus and emphasize for us.

To help us appreciate more fully the impact of  Chapter Six we should consider it in the context of John's entire Gospel.  Matthew Mark and Luke wrote their  Gospels pimarily to tell the story of Jesus so that people who would come after them would have a record of what Jesus thought and said and did.  John was writing decades after Peter Paul James and other leaders of the early Christian community as well as many ordinary faithful people who knew loved and trusted Jesus enough to suffer martyrdom  rather than betray Him had died.

Some of the early Christians thought Jesus would soon return in glory.  John was aware this was not to be.   Aware of a very strong well rooted faith his fellow Christians would need in the years to come, John wanted to assure his readers of the absolutely trustworthy source of their faith,  based as it was on the testimony of Jesus who was divine.  We find John grouping several discources and sayings of Jesus as a proclamation of  divine wisdom . He groups miracles of Jesus as evidence of the divine power of God in Jesus.  He shows Jesus as an example and expession of the divine compassion of  God in the obvious  compassion Jesus had for the poor, sorrowing, and handicapped.  In line with this , Chapter  Five serves as a good introduction to Chapter Six.

Chapter Five begins with a story of a man who had been handicapped for thirty-eight years. (Jn 5: 1 - 18).   In all that time no one had enough compssion for him as to let him be plunged into the healing waters of the Bethesda pool ahead of  their closer relatives or friends..   With divine compassion and power Jesus heals the man without the water.  A problem arises for some of the people who witnessed the miracle in that it was  done on a sabbath.  An argumant between these people and Jesus ensues.   Jesus defends himself not merely by saying he is interpreting the law diferently but that He is the author of the law!  John makes the issue of the divinity of Jesus in this instance very clear.  "The reason why the Jews were even more determined to kill him was that he not only was breaking the sabbath but ,worse still,  was speaking of God as his own Father, thereby making himselfl God's equal."  (Jn 1: 18).     

The remainder of Chapter Five has Jesus arguing with His opponents, clearly staking a claim for  His divinity and the authenticity of His ministry based as it was on His obedience to His Father who sent Him for this.  His claim was a plea for them to to have faith in Him, to trust Him as they would trust God .

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