“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Yesterday, we read of the healing of the sick man at the pool of Bethzasha, who was bedridden for thirty-eight years. In healing this man, Jesus showed the depth of his compassion. This was not the first time Jesus would heal someone on a Sabbath day. Once, Jesus called a man with a withered hand to stand before the people. He said: “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9)

If you were Jesus and you knew that people were planning to kill you for healing people on a Sabbath, would you continue? Let us be honest. Only Jesus can do this. Only Jesus can take such a risk. This is the nature of God’s love, as the Prophet Isaiah presents in today’s First Reading. It is a love deeper than that of a mother for her nursing child. Let us now consider today’s lessons:

1. There is Nothing to Gain From Sin: Isaiah addressed today’s First Reading to people who were in distress. The Israelites were bleeding from the wounds of captivity; their strong men and women had become slaves, and nothing was left of their national dignity. When life was sweet for them, they turned to worship idols, but when it was time to reap the blessings of these idols, they accused God of abandoning them. Why do we only remember God when we are suffering? In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus reminds us that we shall be rewarded for our actions on Judgment Day.

2. Even Now, God Still Cares: Are you asking: “God, where are you?” The answer is: “I am always here with you. I can never leave you, and you can never leave me.” The Psalmist put it beautifully: “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there, your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as day, for darkness is as light to you. You formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:7-13) God has not and can never abandon you.

3. It is Never Late for God: Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God says: “In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.” (Isaiah 49:8)  Your time of favor is coming, and it is never late. It was not late for Lazarus; it will not be late for you.

4. Hatred is Blindness: Instead of the Jews celebrating the arrival of one who restores life and hope, they sought to kill him. When you hate someone, all you see is evil; no matter how good that person is doing, you still see evil in them. Even when you benefit from the person’s kindness, you want the person dead. Several times, the Jews demanded signs, yet every time Jesus did the impossible, all they could see was a lawbreaker, a carpenter who dared to call God his Father. They could not see that only God could do the things Jesus was doing. Is there someone you hate? What if your opinions about this person are wrong? Do you know if God sent this person as your savior? Do not allow hatred to make you blind; crush it before it consumes you.

5. Leave God’s Battles for God: The Jews killed Jesus because He made Himself equal to God. If someone tries to impersonate God, does it mean God cannot deal with the person alone? Do we have to kill on God’s behalf? What kind of God is so weak as to rely on human beings to defend His integrity? By killing Jesus, the Jews proved that they did not know God. 

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, give me faith even now not to take your presence for granted even when things are rough. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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