Today’s Gospel from the Mass (John 5:1-16) recounts the miraculous healing by Jesus of a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. In John 9:1-41, another miraculous healing of a man born blind is recounted. Read separately they are, like all parts of the Gospel, full of meaning and blessing; read together, they offer special insights into how important it is to respond in faith to Christ working in our lives.
These two healing accounts share some similarities:
- Both men have been “disabled” for long periods of time: the invalid for 38 years and the man born blind, his whole life.
- Both men are picked out of a crowd and given an unmerited healing by an act of Grace by Jesus Christ.
- Both are healed by Jesus on the Sabbath (John 5:9; 9:14).
- Neither man initially knows that it is Jesus who healed them.
- Both are questioned by the Jews, who are seeking to find evidence against Jesus.
- Both men are found by Jesus after their interrogations by the Jews (John 5:15; John 9:35).
But there are some differences:
- The invalid man had some ‘sin’ for which his illness traced to (John 5:14), while the man born blind was without sin (John 9:3).
- Both are near healing waters; the invalid wishes to go into the water to be healed (John 5:7), but Jesus heals him with just a word; the man born blind washes in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7).
- When interrogated by the Jews, the invalid expresses no gratitude for his healing, playing it safe. In contrast, the man born blind vigorously defends Jesus, even though he doesn’t know Jesus’ name yet.
- After being found by Jesus after the healing, the invalid shows no gratitude for being healed by Jesus and goes immediately to the Jews and rats out Jesus (John 5:15), while the man born blind has a powerful conversion experience, believes in Jesus and worships Him (John 9:38).
Jesus, full of Divine Mercy, heals both men, giving His Grace equally to two men, even the invalid who Christ may know will not be grateful. Never the less, Jesus offers the worst of sinners blessings in their lives and the potential to “say yes” to Him. Jesus is the God of Divine Mercy.
The Apostle John, ever guided by the Holy Spirit, has recalled these two historical events and portrayed them in a way to give each person though the ages models of how to respond to Grace. John shows the two basic tracks:
- One track is to respond to the Grace of Jesus Christ for all our blessings by living in gratitude: giving thanks, worshiping Him and growing in our love and devotion to Jesus.
- The other track is to be ungrateful, turning our backs on Jesus, perhaps even speaking against Him.
Our response to Grace will have very different consequences: The path of the ingrate will lead them over a cliff to something worse than death; the path of the grateful who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will lead to salvation.
Pray that we all are on the right track.