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Friday after Epiphany – Christmas
Readings: I Jn 5:5-13; Lk 5:12-16.
1/ First Reading: NAB 1 John 5:5 Who (indeed) is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. 7 So there are three that testify, 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. 9 If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.
2/ Gospel: NAB Luke 5:12 Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. 14 Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” 15 The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, 16 but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: To be a witness for Christ.
In order to believe one thing is true, people need to: either see with their eyes, or to feel its effect, or to have witnesses. Many people say that they only believe when they see with their eyes, as St. Thomas, the apostle, when the other apostles told him of Jesus’ appearance to them. In the next appearance, Jesus said to Thomas that to believe when seeing is normal; but blessed are those who believe without seeing. Moreover, there are something people must believe though they don’t see, but can feel of their effects, such as: wind, electricity and life. Lastly, in most of cases, people believe through witnesses; especially after it is proved by two or three witnesses.
Today readings center on the theme: people must believe that Christ comes from God through witnesses. In the first reading, St. John listed out three witnesses for Christ which are the Spirit, water and blood. Whoever doesn’t believe in Christ, after has been witnessed, that one makes God a liar. In the Gospel, Jesus, after healing a leprosy, sent him to present himself to the priest and to offer a sacrifice, to prove that he is completely clean. This healing miracle is also a proof that Christ had healed him because he has God’s power.
1/ Reading I: The Spirit, water and blood, all three witness one thing.
1.1/ Three of Christ’s witnesses: St. John said, “This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.So there are three that testify,the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.”
To understand this passage, we need to read Johannine gospel to understand the historical background behind Jesus’ life. The passage in his gospel talked about water and blood as follows: “but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe” (Jn 19:34-35). Water and blood are two important events in Jesus’ life. Water was used when he was baptized by John Baptist in Jordan river. Blood was poured out when he died on Golgotha Mt.
The reason why John emphasized on “water and blood” is because of the Gnostic heresy. Cerinthus, the represetative of this heresy believes that Jesus came in water but not blood. He believes that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and made him as the son of God. He doesn’t believe Jesus, as the son of God, died on the cross because God can’t suffer. He explained the Golgotha scene as follows: The Spirit went out of Christ and came up to heaven, the spirit of Simon Cyrene took the place of Christ and was nailed to the cross. St. John wanted to oppose this heresy by emphasizing that all three witnesses are necessary for one to believe in Christ who was sent by God to redeem people, especially by blood.
(1) The Holy Spirit: descended and anointed Christ when he was baptized by John Baptist (Mk 1:9-11, Mt 3:16-17, Lk 3:21, Jn 1:32-34, Acts 10:38). This baptism is completely different with John Baptist’s baptism (Mk 1:8, Mt 3:11, Lk 3:16, Acts 1:5, 2:33). The Holy Spirit also descended to the apostles on the Pentecost (Acts 2:4), and is still active in the Church (Acts 8:17, 10:14).
(2) Water: At Jesus’ baptism, John Baptist bears witness for him, saying: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (Jn 1:32-34).
(3) Blood: In the Old Testament, the blood of animal must be poured out to redeem people’s sins. In the New Testament, Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away people’s sins by his death on the cross. He instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the Last Supper, and the Church celebrates the Mass daily to continuously repeat Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to take away people’s sins.
1.2/ We must believe in Christ’s witnesses that he came from God.
(1) God’s witness is more important than human witnesses: The Law teaches that when there are two or three witnesses, their witness is true. Christ has many witnesses; for examples, John Baptist, the miracles that he did, the apostles, etc., but God’s witnesses are more important than human witnesses. There are at least two witnesses from God in Jesus’ baptism: the Father’s witness through the voice from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved son. Listen to him;” and the Holy Spirit’s witness through the image of a dove who descended and remained in him. People must believe these witnesses and believe in Christ, because “Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.”
(2) Must believe in Christ to have the eternal life: St. John said, “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”
2/ Gospel: Show yourself to the priests to verify that you are clean.
2.1/ Jesus healed a man from leprosy:
(1) The leprosy’s proper attitude: First of all, he is a humble man and this was expressed by the fact that he fell prostrate before Jesus. Secondly, his trust in Jesus is expressed by his pleading, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Lastly, his pleading pleased Jesus because he chose to follow Jesus’ will, not his own will; because there are many things which people want aren’t please God.
(2) Christ’s loving attitude: The Jewish law is very strict for the leprosies, they must live in camps, separated from people, and must avoid all contacts with people by shouting out: “Unclean! Unclean” when they see anyone coming close to them. But Jesus wasn’t fearful of becoming unclean, he stretched his arm to touch him and saying, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately.
2.2/ Jesus commanded him to do two things:
(1) Don’t tell anyone: Jesus did the healing out of his love for people so that they might believe in him and have eternal life, not to become famous. This is the reason why he ordered him not to tell anyone.
(2) “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” To certify that he is clean, he must present himself to the priest so that if the priest finds him clean, he shall issue a certification and the man can live with people. Moreover, he also has to offer a sacrifice as described in Leviticus 14.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We believe Christ came from God, not because we saw him, but because of his many witnesses. Our two most important witnesses are Scripture which wrote about God and the Spirit which enlighten us from inside.
– After believed in Christ, we must also witness for him by preaching the Gospel and living a worthy life so that others may recognize and believe in him.