Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; John 5:1-16
In today’s readings I find the potential benefits of water as a recurring theme. We hear of water in the desert and a pool with potentially healing powers. In the last month, this has not been many people’s experience of water, rather than life-giving, water has shown itself as destructive.
In contrast, one result of recent events does reinforce certain connections made in today’s readings. In the textbook examples of the problem of evil, natural disasters are presented as challenge to a loving God. Yet my perception is, in the last month, the disasters seemed to have raised spiritual awareness. Rather than abandoning God in our moments of unforeseen crises, these moments tend to bring us closer to the Transcendent. Perhaps these times remind us of our human frailty. Perhaps it grows out of a human desire to be in control and these moments remind us on a grand scale how little control we really have. It is also interesting how in times of difficulty people often blame their situation, even when it is a natural disaster or physical limitation on their personal actions. Again, I think this comes back to our desire for control. These situations that occur are typically out of our hands, but by blaming it on our own sinfulness, this somehow brings it back under our control (our cause for our effect). It is interesting that even the commentators on today’s Gospel find a need to make it clear that the physical invalidity of the man in John’s Gospel was not related to a previous sinful act.
Today’s Psalm reinforces the idea of God as a refuge and a stronghold in this challenging world. This idea is further advanced in the Gospel. The invalid in the story is trying to get to the healing waters, but is unable. Jesus presents an alternative, but it goes unrecognized. The man has his own idea of how his cure can come about. He wants Jesus to help him to get to the pool of healing water. Jesus makes clear the message of today’s readings. So much of what transpires is beyond our powers.
My prayer today is for a willingness to grow in trust in the Lord.
I pray for the openness to see God as my stronghold.
I pray for those suffering from situations that are beyond their control.
By Michael Cherney