Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (5: 1-3, 5-16) in which we hear the story of Jesus’ marvellous healing at the Pool of Bethzatha (Bethesda) of the man who had been ill for over 30 years.Fr Paul notes, Jesus’ reflection on the healing, and on the witness it provides, will give us the Gospel reading for the next three days. On the gentle slope running down from the north into the Temple there is an artificial reservoir to gather the water flowing off the hillsides for a short time after heavy rains. Surrounding the pool are five colonnades – or rather four colonnades surrounding and one across the middle, dividing it into two pools. This is called the Pool of Bethzatha, and part of the steps down into it still exists – so the author of the Gospel knows Jerusalem well. Around the Pool are still the remains of little healing shrines, for it was obviously a place where sick and handicapped people came expecting to be healed. Fr Paul says, as we hear in the Gospel, Jesus comes to the Pool and takes pity on one sufferer who has been waiting 38 years – and all the authorities can do is complain that Jesus should not ‘work’ on the Sabbath! The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus only made one visit to Jerusalem, just at the end of his ministry, but in John’s Gospel there are four visits. With the extra visits to Jerusalem provided by John we can see Jesus acting in Jerusalem as he did in Galilee. Again, his interpretation of the Law is the same: no Sabbath obligation can stand in the way of Jesus’s love and care for individuals. The question Fr Paul asks of us today – What stands in the way of my being able to love and care for others as Jesus did?
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