Ez. 47:1-9, 12 Jn. 5:1-16
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Our human society, much like the society of Jesus’ day, is governed by rules. In today’s reading the rule is to not carry your mat on the Sabbath. Many times, from these rules, conflict arises within the individual and within the community. It is necessary and natural to have rules to govern our actions, but might it be acceptable to abandon these boundaries from time to time for the sake of individual circumstance? And what happens when what our heart is telling us to do is different from what society has laid out for us?
The Gospel begins by painting the picture of the sick in a pool untouched by the rest of society. Jesus’ act is to make the ill man well. In this act I see the first call of this encounter and the first opposition to societal boundaries. Instead of allowing the sick man to fend for himself, Jesus takes on personal responsibility to his fellow person and makes him well. The real conflict arises when the man then takes his mat at the suggestion of Jesus and is later stopped and apprehended for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. The conversation leads to Jesus’ persecution by the Jews. This situation calls to my mind the “red tape” and distraction that often accompanies conversations of societal rights and wrongs. Where was the celebration around the man who was now well? Instead of gratitude, Jesus was rewarded with persecution. This internal struggle between abiding by laws or rules and following the natural flow of circumstance is a difficulty I encounter in my daily life. How do I reconcile my desire to adhere to the rules, but also live my life in accordance with what I feel is right at a given moment?
The challenge being presented in this reading is to confront societal rules with respect, but to balance personal values with that. Sometimes it is our duty to challenge boundaries like Jesus did and to do it in a way that is in the best interest of “the other”. I try to live out this challenge through questioning society’s boundaries and by fulfilling my duty to help “make the ill well” even though I may face a degree of persecution for it.
Junior, Physical Therapy Program