Monday, March 27, 2017

THE GOOD PHYSICIAN


March 28th, 2017: Ezek. 47:1-9, 12; John 5:1-16.

          “Do you want to be well?” Jesus asks the paralyzed man unable to get to the healing waters because of the crush of others ahead of him. Not all sick people do really want to get well. Their illness gains them sympathy which they lose, once they are healed and become ‘like everyone else.’ Moreover, Jesus (who as we see often in the gospels) can read minds and hearts, surely saw that this man was a simple soul indeed. After his healing he doesn’t even ask Jesus’ name, but lets the man who has changed his life slip away into the crowd unidentified. He discovers Jesus’ identity only later, when Jesus himself takes the initiative to look for the man he has healed. And then the man repays Jesus by identifying him to the authorities. A dull soul indeed.

The Church gives us, in the first reading, an account of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the stream of healing waters flowing from the Temple to be rebuilt following the return of God’s people from their exile in Babylon. The Temple was the earthly dwelling place of God. With the birth of Jesus, who is God’s divine Son, God transferred his earthly dwelling place to a new temple: the body Jesus himself. (See John 2:21). That is why, at Jesus’ death, the Temple veil, concealing the Holy of Holies, the place of God’s dwelling, was “torn in two” (Mark 15:38 and parallels). God had withdrawn his presence: a veil was no longer needed.

In this story we see that the healing previously flowing (in Ezekiel’s prophecy) from the Temple now comes from Jesus himself. Rather than helping the man reach the healing waters, Jesus heals him with a mere word. He continues to exercise his healing power. One of Jesus’ titles is “the Good Physician.” He heals us from the inherited guilt of original sin in the water of baptism. Through the word of a priest authorized to speak in Jesus’ name, he heals us in the sacrament of penance from the guilt of actual sin.