Reading 1 (EZEKIEL 47:1-9, 12)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

The angel brought me, Ezekiel,
back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the right side.
Then when he had walked off to the east
with a measuring cord in his hand,
he measured off a thousand cubits
and had me wade through the water, 
which was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand
and once more had me wade through the water,
which was now knee-deep.
Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade;
the water was up to my waist.
Once more he measured off a thousand,
but there was now a river through which I could not wade;
for the water had risen so high it had become a river
that could not be crossed except by swimming.
He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?”
Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit.
Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. 
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9)

R. (8)  The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. 
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. 
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. 
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob. 

Verse Before The Gospel (PSALM 51:12A, 14A)

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Gospel (JOHN 5:1-16)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” 
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me,
‘Take up your mat and walk.'”
They asked him,
“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
“Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: In the First Reading (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12), the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of a temple wherein water will flow from the right side of it. This would lead to its abundance and grandeur. The prophecy speaks of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, who suffered, died, and rose again in order for God’s grace and mercy to be fulfilled for the salvation of the human race. In Jerusalem, you would find there a pool by the Sheep Gate, which is called “Bethesda” in Hebrew. During those times, a lot of afflicted people go here and dip themselves in the water in order to be healed. They wait for the angel of the Lord to come down and stir the water. In the Gospel (John 5:1-20), Jesus heals a man who had been crippled for 38 years. However, this was done during the Sabbath, at which the Jews considered it as a violation against the Law. Because of this, they persecuted him. Remember what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders when he asked a crippled man to stand in front of him at the synagogue: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it” (Mark 3:4)? He teaches us that doing good deeds should not be withheld on some occasions; rather, it should be done everyday. When we go to church on Sundays, we are challenged to live the nourishment Christ gave us through the Word and Sacrament. That is because his Resurrection completed his Work of Redemption for the human race. What the Third Commandment forbids is excessive work for business/labor/capital/income, but not good works such as helping and giving. Jesus didn’t have to wait for the next day for the crippled man to be healed. That should also happen to us in our everyday lives. So as we journey down this Lenten road, let us spend these 40 days in devoting ourselves to acts of charity and kindness. May our Sabbath be ceasing from human work and taking part in the divine work by worshiping God and helping our neighbor.

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