Tuesday, March 24, 2009
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.
Class of 2011
"Therefore, they began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath." Persecution may not be something familiar to many people living in the United States today, however an analogous experience that can be applied to today's society is "peer pressure." Most of us, myself included, have been subjected to peer pressure and have given in even when what we are being pressured to do is wrong. In the time of Jesus, it was considered part of the norm not to engage in work on the Sabbath and to enjoy a day of freedom from labor. However, he chose instead to show compassion and heal the sick man on the Sabbath. This showed tremendous courage on Jesus' part. As a Jew, he was expected to obey the law as they were interpreted by the Pharisees. By not doing so, he made himself a target for persecution.
Similar situations hold true in today's society where peer pressure dictates how we are supposed to act. There may be a fellow student who always sits alone because he acts differently from everyone else. A student's friends may all be heavy drinkers and partiers on weekends. Or more personally, a student may keep quiet in mass even though he or she has a good singing voice. We experience peer pressure not to reach out, to drink heavily or not to sing at Mass.
With the season of Lent upon us, it is a good time to be true to ourselves and have the courage to steer away from peer pressure when it isn't right or isn't who you are as a person. So during this time of Lent, sit with that lonely student and get to know him regardless of peer pressure from fellow students. Don't hang out with your drinking friends on the weekends regardless of their urgings for you to be part of the group. And try to sing loud and proud at Mass regardless of those around you who are too frightened to do so. By facing this peer pressure head on, you may find out something surprising about yourself.