This morning’s gospel left me with many possible avenues of exploration. It’s the familiar healing by Jesus of the man at the pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years but had no one to put him into the pool for healing when the healing waters were stirred. (JN 5:1-16) I first think (and thus have commented about) how impossible it sounds that he was lying around for 38 years and nobody lifted him into the pool. Secondly, it gives me pause to think about that scene and how the whole thing worked: how large the pool was, how and how often the waters were “stirred”, how big a crowd was there waiting (I think of the processions in the grotto at Lourdes with massive crowds) and finally how intent everyone must have been on their own invalid so that everyone ignored this man. So many considerations with little information to help me conceive of his predicament…
Today, however, I was caught by the end of the text after the healing where the man was berated for carrying his mat on the Sabbath as that was against the law. That sounds almost as ridiculous as the difficulty he had finding help! (I don’t mean to denigrate any precept of the Mosaic law; I remember when in my youth we were to do “no unnecessary servile work” on Sunday.) And in the end, when those “righteous” people found Jesus, they began to persecute him “because he did this (healing work) on the Sabbath.”
I have always heard that God’s law is higher than human law so in cases of doubt, it’s always better to look to God. And the word “unnecessary” in the creed of my youth eliminated a lot of concern in that way. So the final strain of my thought process this morning was about doctors and nurses and other hospital workers whose week is generally not like that of other people. Often they have rotating schedules – off one weekend and on the next. Sometimes they are called in for an emergency at any hour of the day or night. First responders are in the same category. What would happen if the hospitals and urgent care clinics and fire houses were closed on the weekends?
Today, I will pray for people who have no one to care for them and will bow in gratitude for those tireless people who serve in professions where their willingness heals our ills and can sometimes save our lives.