Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 / John 5:1-3, 5-16
Jesus cures a man: The man never gave up hope.
Two frogs accidentally tumbled into a bucket of cream. They thrashed about for an hour, trying to make it up the side of the metal bucket. Exhausted, one of the frogs gasped, “It’s no use!” With that, he gave up and drowned in the cream. The second frog, however, struggled on. He thrashed and thrashed and thrashed about. Then, suddenly, he found himself sitting safely on a lump of butter. It was this kind of perseverance that the man in today’s gospel showed. For 38 years he sought to be cured. He never gave up.
How persevering are we? “The heights by great men reached and kept Were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Water is a very fascinating element. It is essential for life; coming after the need for air, the next is the need for water as we can actually die of thirst. In its material dimension, it takes on the shape of whatever container it goes into. And it can also exist as a liquid, as a solid and as a gas. Hence, water is indeed a very versatile and flexible element, not just in the material sense, but also in the spiritual sense.
In the Biblical and Church tradition, water symbolizes purity and fertility for out of the waters came forth creation (Gen 1). Yet, there are also deeper meanings to water. Water is also a symbol of blessing and healing.
In the 1st reading, the waters that flow out of the Temple threshold gives life and health and brings about blessings on the lands it which it flows.
And the gospel mentions of a Sheep Pool in Jerusalem in which crowds of sick people gather around in search for healing when the waters are disturbed.
In the Church there is a Rite of blessing of water, after which the water is called "holy water". It is used to remind us of our baptism, of the blessings that God wants to bestow on us, and also for healing. Hence, holy water should be used often and not sporadically. When holy water is used with faith, it becomes a source of cleansing and purification for us, and it can also be a source of healing and blessing for us.
Lent Tuesday, 4th week - Liturgy
Water flows from the Temple and turns the land into a fertile paradise, bringing health and life, says Ezekiel. But this living Temple is Christ, says John. Encountering him means forgiveness, health, and life. These readings on the symbolism of life-giving water and on Christ have been chosen in view of baptism, the Lenten-Easter sacrament: in its waters we encounter Christ.
-Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea, LHM
-Because God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress, CHM
-God is in its midst; I shall not be disturbed; God will help at the break of dawn, LHM
Lord our God, you have quenched our thirst for life with the water of baptism. Keep turning the desert of our arid lives into a paradise of joy and peace, that we may bear fruits of holiness, justice and love. Lord, hear our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked him. This seems an odd question when you consider that the man had been waiting for thirty-eight years to be healed! But of course we often have compelling reasons for clinging to our sicknesses. You will no longer have people to take you around: do you want to be healed? You will no longer have sympathy from everyone: do you want to be healed? You will have to work, and you are not used to it: do you want to be healed?
He wanted to be healed. Then Jesus said, “Stand up!” This too seems odd at first sight. Jesus was asking him to do the very thing he could not do!
Then the miracle happened: the man made to stand up. He overcame the habits – physical and mental – of more than half a lifetime. His mind and will said, “Stand!” That was an amazing achievement. Then, when he made to stand up, he found that he could! The miracle was not worked ‘on’ him; it was worked ‘with’ him. This is not to say that it was just mind over matter. It was the presence of Jesus, but that presence in this case required the full conscious presence of the paralysed man. What does it say to us? The very thing we can't do is sometimes the only thing worth doing.
- For people who are blind to the defects of their hearts and to the needs of their neighbor, we pray:
- For people who are paralyzed by their fears and their lack of courage, we pray:
- For the physically handicapped, those who are blind, lame and paralyzed, that they may move the hearts of people and keep up their trust in God, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, your Son Jesus comes among us in these signs of bread and wine. May he be for us the source of living water from which we can drink until we are satisfied, that we may turn this earth into a hospitable place, which gives us a foretaste of your eternal paradise. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, we have encountered your Son in this Eucharistic celebration. May he say to us too: "Pick up your sleeping mat and walk," and may we indeed walk at the word of your Son and go to you his way of goodness, justice and peace. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
God of healing, we come to you in pieces at times -- unable to hear your word, walk in your ways, hope for what is beyond the human eye. We desire healing but know that by ourselves we are unable to risk freedom's leap into your waiting arms. Have mercy, then, and lift us. Carry us, O God, more deeply into the waters of our baptism. Drown us in grace, that we may have life through the breath of your Spirit. Keep us willing in hope... care-free in faith... waiting on love. Amen.
The Turning: Grace meets me on the road and leads me to Jesus -- the miracle of my healing. To experience my weakness, yet to realize acceptance, leads to healing...for God is not discouraged with me even when I am discouraged with myself.