Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Ezekiel 47:1–9, 12;
Psalm 46:2–3, 5–6, 8–9;
John 5:1–3a, 5–16
“I have no one to put me into the pool.” —John 5:6
Today’s Gospel tells us that the man by the pool of Bethesda has been ill for thirty-eight years. He sounds a bit querulous as he lies there waiting for someone to take care of his problems. And when Jesus does heal him and tells him to sin no more, he tells the authorities where to find Jesus.
Not everyone wants to be well. Too often we become invested in our own weakness, our own sickness. It seems we would rather complain than deal with the responsibility of being healed. It can take a great deal of reflection, prayer, and good counsel to overcome this inertia.
One of the legends associated with St. Francis tells of a vineyard near a church in the Rieti valley. Francis was staying there while being treated for eye problems. So many people came to visit him that the vineyard was trampled. The priest complained that he would not get the small yield of grapes on which he relied for his household wine each year. Francis assured him that he would harvest at least twenty loads of grapes that year instead of the usual thirteen.
What’s more interesting than the miracle that Francis promised (and which did in fact occur) is what Francis said to the priest: “Cease despairing. Don’t trouble anyone any more with your complaints. Have confidence in the Lord and in my words.”
How often do we really place our trust in the Lord? Complaining can become a habit and it can soon burden our spirits—and our friends. When we’re going through tough times, some amount of struggle and grief is to be expected. But as people of faith, we know that at some point we need to let go of the grieving and move forward with grace.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither
Excess nor Harshness.