Readings and Reflection for March 29, Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

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FIRST READING
I saw water coming forth from the temple, and all those were saved to whom the water came.
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1—9.12)

In those days: [The angel] brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the right side of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar towards the east. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the right side. Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM psalm 46:2-3.5-6.8-9 (R/. 8)
R/. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold

God is for us a refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in time of distress:
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains quake to the heart of the sea. R/.

The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place, the dwelling of the Most High.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day. R/.

R/. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come and behold the works of the Lord,
the awesome deeds he has done on the earth. R.

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Psalm 51:10a.12a
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore to me the joy of your salvation. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
“At once the man was healed.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 5: 1 – 16)

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralysed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet and walk.” ’They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath.

The Gospel of the Lord

TODAY’S REFLECTION
There are three categories of people in this world; thinkers, talkers and doers. Thinkers understand the situation, talkers help to broadcast the situation but only doers are quick enough to apply solutions. Which category do you belong?

The man in today’s Gospel passage was obviously a talker. One thing about talkers is that they don’t listen. They just want to be heard; they so much crave the pity and attention of others; they are professional complainers. Because they talk too much, they tend to be very negatively minded. They know exactly what is wrong with the world but unconsciously, they believe talking about the problem is more important than working on a solution. They are story tellers and great history recorders. They hardly see opportunities! 

Jesus asked this man a simple question: “Do you want to be healed?” Why would Jesus ask such a question to a man who had been suffering from such a condition for the past 38 years? Was Jesus expecting him to say ‘No’? For me, by asking him that question, Jesus wanted him to know he had a right to healing even though that day was a Sabbath Day. Days of the Sabbath does not supersede the law of love. Indeed, no law is greater than loving God and our neighbours as ourselves.

Unfortunately, this man did not even listen to Jesus’ question. He started talking about his condition repeating this same line of pity which must have been his strategy of begging alms. He was engrossed with self-pity that he failed to see the Golden opportunity that was standing right beside him; Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth, God in the midst of men. Are you like this man? Do you try to attract the pity of people to yourself by talking over and over again about your present challenges as though your condition is worse than that of anyone else in this world?

Dear friends, it is time for us to stop complaining and start seeing Jesus in every situation. Stop trying to get the pity of others. Every challenge is an opportunity. God allows things to happen to us for a reason. If only we look at our life’s circumstances from a different angle, we would see that we have no reason whatsoever to complain. Take it from me, all your problems are NECESSARY. Yes, not only is it God’s will that you should experience such challenges, these seemingly challenges are great gifts; great blessings in disguise; packages carefully wrapped concealing true treasures.
Repent today. Stop complaining and start seeing opportunities in every challenge.

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