Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 5,17-30

His answer to them was, 'My Father still goes on working, and I am at work, too.' But that only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he spoke of God as his own Father and so made himself God's equal. To this Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, by himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he himself does, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you. Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses; for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father. Whoever refuses honour to the Son refuses honour to the Father who sent him. In all truth I tell you, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; without being brought to judgement such a person has passed from death to life. In all truth I tell you, the hour is coming -- indeed it is already here -- when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and, because he is the Son of man, has granted him power to give judgement. Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice: those who did good will come forth to life; and those who did evil will come forth to judgement. By myself I can do nothing; I can judge only as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Today's Gospel passage is directly tied to the healing of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, on which we meditated yesterday. The Pharisees accuse Jesus of violating the Sabbath and leading the paralyzed man to violate it as well, seeing that he had told to take his mat and carry it home. Jesus defends himself by clearly affirming the connection between his actions and those of his Father who is in heaven: "My Father is still working, and I also am working." This statement was certain to cause scandal. Indeed, this causes the people's leaders to become hostile towards Jesus for the last time. It was not just the question of the Sabbath that was in play, but Jesus' very identity as the Son of God. It was a blasphemous claim: "For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God." But Jesus' identity as the Son of God is the heart of the Gospel, the good news that he came to communicate to humanity. And, faced with the opposition of the Pharisees, Jesus repeats that he is the Son of God, who has come among men and women to continue the work of the Father. He came to fight death and evil and restore life to all those who have lost it. Jesus continues on earth the work that the Father started in heaven. Jesus' work is an act of salvation that goes beyond the law of the "Sabbath." Indeed, Jesus must hasten the eternal Sabbath when, as Paul writes, God will be all in all (1 Cor 15: 28). All of Jesus' activity among men and women is aimed at giving life, the true life that even death cannot destroy. Jesus adds solemnly: "The hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself." And, thinking of all of those who are listening to him and those who will hear the words of the Gospel in the future, he says: "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life." Jesus does not say, "will have eternal life," but "has eternal life." Those who welcome the Gospel in their heart receive the seed of immortality here and now. In front of our weakness and our precariousness, these words are leaven for our entire existence and pull us out of the abyss of nothingness, because they bind us to the risen Lord. Eternity has already begun in Jesus and in those who unite with him. Those who have heard Jesus' voice in this life will hear it again and recognize it when the tombs open at the end of time. And the kingdom of God, which already was living in them, will reach its fullness.