by Fr. Tommy Lane
Jesus was also shocking in the Gospel passage that we heard when he also tried to present a different viewpoint to what was accepted. Just before today’s passage (John 5:17-30), yesterday we heard of Jesus healing the man by the Pool of Bethesda who had been ill for thirty eight years (John 5:1-3, 5-16). That was breaking the Sabbath. Then Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk which was instructing the healed man to work on the Sabbath and break the Sabbath. Then in today’s passage (John 5:17-30) the situation becomes much more serious when Jesus says in defense of his actions that his heavenly Father and he continue working on the Sabbath so he called God his Father and made himself equal to God. In the Synoptics Jesus defends breaking the Sabbath by saying that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8; Luke 6:5) but here in John Jesus stresses his unity with his Father. He says that he and Father are one and Jesus does only what the Father does. Because the Father works on the Sabbath Jesus also works on the Sabbath.
Jesus’ freedom with regard to the Sabbath no doubt paved the way for the early Christians to make the Lord’s Day (Sunday) and not the Sabbath the Christian Holy Day. The Didache (14:1) describes celebrating the Eucharist on “the Lord’s Day of the Lord.” “The Lord’s Day of the Lord” suggests therefore that the Christians believed it was the Lord himself who decreed that they should celebrate the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day rather than the Sabbath. Col 2:16-17 lists a number of Old Testament practices as well as the Sabbath and tells us these were only shadows of what was to come and what was to come was Christ. Even the Sabbath was only a shadow of what was to come, and what was to come was the Christian celebration of the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. Surely it is for the same reason that the Book of Revelation 1:10 tells us St. John received his revelations on the Lord’s Day. So the Jewish celebration of the Sabbath is fulfilled in the New Covenant celebration of the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day.
St. Patrick, like Christ, led the Irish to a new viewpoint. Previously the country had been largely pagan but Patrick led the Irish to Christ and his viewpoint. The lighting of the Spring fire at Tara was transformed by Patrick into the lighting of the Paschal fire. The shamrock had been a sacred plant of the Druids and we are told that Patrick used it to explain the Trinity. Just as Christ brought the Jews to understand the fulfillment of their practices in him, St. Patrick brought the Irish to see the fulfillment of their pagan practices in Christ. For us, Lent is a time to transform everything in our lives into Christ. Through the intercession of St. Patrick may our lives be transformed into Christ this Lent.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for Wednesday Week 4 of Lent