“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?”.” -John 5:6
Water, two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The Earth is 71 % water and of the 71% 97% is ocean and 3% is fresh water. The human body is 60% water, and that varies from person to person. The heart and brain are 73%. The Lungs are 83%. Skin is 64% and muscles and kidneys are 79% and bones are 31%. Water is very important to us, both as a resource and for our own survival.
In the first reading, Ezekiel is describing one of his visions where the angel carries him to the “temple of the Lord” and there he sees water flowing from the temple. As they walk farther and farther downstream, it becomes deeper to the point where Ezekiel has to swim. The angel takes him to the bank of the river and shows him all the trees and plants that use the water to flourish. Also, note that when the water from the temple comes to the sea it makes it fresh water. This water has the power to change salty water into fresh water. It has the power to grow plants and trees where “Their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail”. I found it interesting that the passage did not talk about drinking the water but only spoke of things that could be used as food and medicine — and these would never fade.
So what would be “food and medicine” that we possibly receive from God? Is this the “living water” that Jesus refers to when he speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well?
In the Gospel of John Jesus enters Jerusalem and goes to the pool of Bethesda where people go to be healed by the water when it “stirs”. Quite possibly it was a hot spring that bubbled occasionally, and the legend said that whoever got there first would be healed. The crippled man tried for thirty-eight years to be healed but always seemed to miss out. Jesus doesn’t offer him water. Jesus offers him healing with his Word: “Rise, take up your mat, and walk”.
I have watched both seasons of The Chosen. This can be found via Google. Season 2 Episode 4 tells a story about two brothers. One becomes a Zealot, and the other is the man at the pool of Bethesda. While the story is not exactly as it is in the Bible it is meant to give the cultural and historical setting for the time of Jesus. The scene where Jesus goes to the pool and heals the crippled man is powerful. It shows that the man does not understand at first what Jesus is saying when he asked him, “Do you want to be well?” When Jesus tells him to rise, he discovers that his legs are healed and can hold his weight. To see what joy the man felt gives us insight into the power of Jesus’ miracles for the people of his time.
While Ezekiel saw all the abundance that came from the water that flowed from the Temple of the Lord, the man at the pool of Bethesda was able to experience the healing power that came from the Son of God. In what ways can we open our hearts to Jesus Christ for healing? What needs to be healed within us?
May your Lenten journey be fruitful.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.