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4th Week of Lent
All who are thirsty, come to the waters, says the Lord.
Though you have no money, come and drink with joy. Cf. Is 55:1
May the venerable exercises of holy devotion
shape the hearts of your faithful, O Lord,
to welcome worthily the Paschal Mystery
and proclaim the praises of your salvation.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 (or Micah 7:7-9)
The angel brought me, Ezekiel, back to the entrance of the temple of the Lord, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He led me outside by the north gate, and around to the outer gate facing the east, where I saw water trickling from the right side. Then when he had walked off to the east with a measuring cord in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and had me wade through the water, which was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand and once more had me wade through the water, which was now knee-deep. Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade; the water was up to my waist. Once more he measured off a thousand, but there was now a river through which I could not wade; for the water had risen so high it had become a river that could not be crossed except by swimming. He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?” Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit. Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides. He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
Psalm 46 (or Psalm 27)
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea. R.
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn. R.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the Lord,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth. R.
Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation. Ps 51:12a, 14a
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life. Jn 8:12
Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
John 5:1-16 (or John 9:1-41)
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
Prayer over the Offerings
We offer to you, O Lord,
these gifts which you yourself have bestowed;
may they attest to your care as Creator
for this our mortal life,
and effect in us the healing
that brings us immortality.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose,
near restful waters he leads me. Cf. Ps 23 (22):1-2
Prayer after Communion
Purify our minds, O Lord, we pray,
and renew them with this heavenly Sacrament,
that we may find help for our bodies
now and likewise in times to come.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Daily Meditation: John 5:1-16
Do you want to be well? (John 5:6)
In the Bible, we see people who are suffering from all sorts of ailments and diseases and are seeking out Jesus for healing. But where are the people asking Jesus to heal them of their sins? Yes, our physical problems can loom large, but Jesus is just as concerned with our spiritual illnesses—our attachments to sin and our avoidance of his ways.
Today’s Gospel shows us several people who need to start down the path of spiritual healing. First, there is the man who has been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus asks him if he wants to be well, he doesn’t answer directly and instead complains about his situation. After healing him, Jesus tells him not to sin anymore, “so that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).
These brief interactions give us clues that this man probably had more problems than just physical ones. Maybe he was even reluctant to be healed, incredible as it seems. He was used to living with his sickness, and being well meant entering into a new kind of life. For one thing, he would be expected to work now. The change could be scary.
The religious authorities in the story also need some spiritual healing. When they see the man cured, they are filled with jealousy and are more concerned with upholding sabbath rules than in recognizing a miracle. Suspecting that their authority and traditions are being threatened, they too seem to fear change.
Now, Jesus may choose to heal our bodies miraculously, and he may not. But he definitely wants to heal our souls—and he needs our ongoing cooperation to do that. He understands that our sins can feel comfortable and difficult to give up. But he promises even greater joy as we put them aside, take up our mat, and follow him.
The paralyzed man in the Gospel may not have been prepared for Jesus to heal him—and you don’t have to be either. But when an opportunity for change comes to you, don’t try to brush it off as that man did. Don’t be afraid to offer him your messy baggage and accept his generous offer of grace. Jesus will stay with you; he will help you accept the change he is offering you.
“Jesus, help me to be open to the healing you want to do in my life.”
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
The Word Among Us’ response to the coronavirus crisis.
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