In today’s reading from John’s gospel, the cure of the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethsaida sets off criticism of Jesus by Jerusalem’s leaders who accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Others before questioned their absolute proscription of Sabbath work; God, after all, maintained creation on the Sabbath, babies were born, people died, God passed judgment on that day.
But now the leaders make a greater charge– Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, saying he continued his Father’s work; he had power over life and death; he will judge the living and the dead. These are divine powers. Jesus claims to be God’s unique Son, true God, true man.
“Who do you say I am?” is a question Jesus raised then and he asks us now. That’s a question our readings from John’s gospel asks through the remainder of this week and into Holy Week.
“Who do you say I am?” is an important question we must answer when we look at the One who teaches in Jerusalem, calls his disciples to join him at table on Holy Thursday, prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, is arrested and sentenced to death, then dies on the cross. In our public prayers we say:
“He is the Word of God, through whom you made the universe,
the Savior you sent to redeem us…
For our sake he opened his arms on the cross,
He put an end to death,
And revealed the resurrection…” (Eucharistic Prayer 2)
Who do we say he is?
Our personal prayer too rests on this powerful belief. “Often turn to our holy faith and let it lead you into the bosom and the arms of God. You’ll be blessed if you faithfully follow my advice. When affliction lays heavy on you, you can go to your room, take the crucifix in your hands and give yourself a sermon from it. What a sermon you will hear! How quickly your heart will be calmed.” (Paul of the Cross:Letter 1464)
I believe you are God’s Son,
true God from true God,
I believe you have come to save us.
For Morning and Evening Prayers today.