The eagle of St John


Reading the weekday Gospels March 2020

A guide from Patrick Fitzgerald-Lombard O.Carm

Tuesday 24th March: John 5,1-3.5-16

Today's Gospel of Jesus healing a man by the poolside is a marked contrast to yesterday's healing. Here, the healing does not lead to believing in Jesus. Instead, the healed man tells the Pharisees. That begins the whole series of controversies which now will dominaate the story of the Gospel.

The whole of this chapter 5 is read and spread over three days. The chapter is takes the form of a trial scene: crime and accusation were recounted today. The Defence will be tomorrow in Jn 5,17-30 and the Witnesses will called on Thursday, Jn 5,31-47.

The crippled man is well described in a few words: his poverty and pathos together with his sense of dependency. He is also disloyal by speaking with the Jews about what Jesus did.
The Jews in this Gospel refer to a specific group, those in authority. They are the enemies of Jesus but do not represent all Jews. Antisemitism arises from a misreading of this Gospel, hence a recent tendency to translate this group as Judeans.

By verse 17, two accusations have been laid against Jesus: first that he performs miracles on the sabbath (verse 16). Then Jesus provocatively refers to God as his Father (verse 17) so this becomes the second charge (verse 18).
We can also note that this chapter speaks of works, not signs. The whole scene is recounted quite differently to the two signs at Cana which were specifically about believing in Jesus. The works of this chapter do not lead to believing.

Wednesday 25th March: Jn 5,17-30

Today is the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. It therefore has its own readings.
For the purposes of this project, we will continue with the Gospel of the day, Jesus' defence to the accusations in John chapter 5, Jn 5,17-30.

The Jerusalem Bible has "I tell you most solemnly" in verses 19, 24 and 25. The Revised New Jerusalem Bible has the traditional "Amen, amen, I say to you" which I find a more effective call to attention.
Thus we can read this defence in three parts:
verses 19-23: on the intertwined relationship between Father and Son. It is only through that relationship that we receive life (verse 21)
verse 24: the conclusion is a call to hear the Son and believe the Father as the only way to life. To receive this life, Jesus is the judge (verse 22).

Verses 25-29 then speak of the specific role of the Son as the source of that life. The key theme of the hour comes to the fore, the hour of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection (Jn 13,1).

The third part, Jn 5,31-47 follows tomorrow. We can though note that throughout the whole chapter there are no less than 16 references to Jesus calling God his Father.

Thursday 26th March: Jn 5,31-47

In this final part of the chapter, Jesus appeals to witnesses, verse 31-32. There are four:

John the Baptist in verses 32-35. See Jn 1,6-9.

The works the Father has given to Jesus (v.36). See verse 17.

The Father himself in verses 37-38.

The Scriptures, what we now call the Old Testament, in verses 39-40.

Finally in his discourse, it is Jesus who makes the accusaton, verses 41-47.

Following this brief trail through chapter 5, we see how it is a complete process in itself, with the reversal at the end as the accused becomes accuser and judge.