Today we were blessed to have mass at the Church of St Anne, built by the Crusaders in AD 1138. There is a tradition that the crypt enshrines the home of the Virgin Mary and her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne. In the crypt, we had an opportunity to visit and pray in what is said to be the birthplace of Mary, the virgin mother of God. It was in this Church that we had today’s Eucharistic celebration. Next to it are the ruins of the miraculous healing pool called Bethesda, around which many sick people gathered in hope of healing once water stirred up. In the gospel of John we read about Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath, a man who had been ill for 38 years and who Jesus found lying next to the pool but had no one to put him in the pool once the water stirred (Jn 5:1-13).
Reflecting on these two important sites in the life of our Lord Jesus, one comes to appreciate and to clearly understand the salvation history of humanity. Having Mass at the site where the Blessed Virgin was said to have been born, lived, and grown up as a normal child bring us to understand the humility of God. The humility of God is visible as He uses normal and ordinary things in our lives to bring about extraordinary things. Anne and Joachim lived a simple but upright life and raised Mary in a life of holiness as they cooperated with the grace of God. Born for a special mission and thus being conceived without original sin, Mary became the mother of the incarnate Word, bringing forth through God’s grace the Savior. Anne and Joachim cooperated with the grace of God to raise Mary, who fulfilled the divinely ordained mission given to her. We too are called on to pray and imitate the humility of Saints Anne and Joachim so as to let God’s will be done in our lives and to fulfill the mission to which we are called. Gazing on the Pool of Bethesda, we realize Jesus’ concern, love, and compassion for those who are suffering. Jesus initiates the healing process; He gives the grace and we are to cooperate with His grace to attain the healing we need in our lives. This healing can be physical or psychological, but above all it is spiritual. Like the lame man who believed and was cured, we too are challenged to cooperate with God’s grace.