The gospel reading at Holy Mass today may strike us as a bit obscure. Some verses get skipped in the Lectionary.
Hopefully we recall reading about the cure of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, when the Lord Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk. Then the Temple authorities sought to arrest Him for breaking the sabbath.
In the chapter we read from today, the Lord points out to the crowd that it is considered legal to circumcise on the sabbath. So shouldn’t it be legal miraculously to heal paralytics on the sabbath?
The Lord seems to me to be getting at this question:
What is the foundation upon which we can base a consistent method of judging between right and wrong?
The idea in Jerusalem was: “We have the Law of Moses!” But Jesus pointed out: The very circumcision by which we identify ourselves as Jews—this practice is older than the Law of Moses.
In other words, Christ basically says: You really don’t have anywhere near as solid a foundation as you think you do. After all, here I am, pouring out divine love everywhere I go, and you consider me a criminal. Something don’t add up.
Then the Lord declares: ‘The foundation I have for all my teachings is the heavenly Father, Whom I have known perfectly for all eternity.’
Because Jesus possesses—and has always possessed—unique and perfect knowledge, He and He alone offers a true foundation for a consistent method of judging between right and wrong. Christ, and only Christ, offers us the basic reference point of life.
Away from Him–in the darkness of a life that does not have Jesus Christ for a daily companion–we know only confusion, shallowness, and ultimate self-destruction. But if we stay close to Him, we find the true path.
May the upcoming Passiontide, upon which we embark next week, draw us closer to the one and only true standard of judgment and reference point for life.