Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
We have beverages for every occasion-bright, bubbly, or intoxicating. But we would die without water.
In the first reading, we read of the lush vision of Ezekiel in which water pours out of the temple and flows out into the land making it verdant and plentiful. Of course this is in one sense a vision for a fertile Israel, one that will grow abundantly into the future.
But it is primarily Israel’s spiritual destiny which is being envisioned. And it is only from the temple, from God, that the sacred waters will flow to nourish souls and bring the Israelites into the fullness of their being as God’s chosen people. That vision bears fruit in us today, too, when we draw our spiritual sustenance from the deep well of God’s love for us.
Similarly, the Gospel talks about the sick man who has lain fitfully on the edges of the pool of Bethesda, too sick to reach the water to be healed. But it is Jesus, the living fulfillment of the waters that streamed from the temple, who comes to the sick man and asks the simple question, "Do you want to be well?" And with the sick man’s admission of his own frailty, Jesus heals him. God’s healing is within reach for all of us through Christ; we have only to come in humility before God to receive it.
What the Gospel also reveals is the human ability to block healing as the crowd does in persecuting Jesus because he healed the sick man on the Sabbath. Again and again we see Jesus trying to move us humans beyond the letter of the law so that we can experience the abundance of God’s love. It is our human sickness to live in a desert of fear, rigidity, greed, and judgment, to reject that which will make us spiritually supple and alive. It is a sickness, but we can be well by drinking in God’s love.
As a final thought on a very practical yet vital level, globally we are approaching World Water Day (March 22nd), an opportunity to further identify and relieve the suffering of those in our world who are deprived of even decent drinking water, and to find ways to treat this precious resource more respectfully. The Passionists’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation program supports this effort: http://www.jpicpassionist.org/
If you are so moved, please click above to learn more.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.