Scripture: Lectionary 246 . March 12. Ezekiel 47:1-9,12. Psalm 46:2-3.5-6.8-9. John 5:1-3,5-16:
Ezekiel entertains us with a colorful vision, his last, of the superabundant healing powers of the water that flows from beneath the altar of the Temple and irrigates the desert land leading down to the Dead Sea. These refreshing waters flow finally as a river down into the Araba and even nourish the salty waters of the lowest geographical spot on earth. The trees give fruit in all four seasons.
We see in Ezekiel the overwhelming effect of God’s Divine Presence in his mind and body. His imagery is the most striking in the Old Testament prophets and will be the source of many of the details found in the vision of John of Patmos who then writes the Book of Revelation. The scroll of Ezekiel is divided into two parts, chapter 1-24 dealing with the fall of Jerusalem and the exile into Babylon (597 B.C.). Chapters 25-48 are the reconciling of Israel with God and the restoration of Jerusalem. Ezekiel stresses the priestly tradition and the call to holiness; he gives hope to the people through his vision of the dry bones coming to life; he emphasizes personal responsibility for our moral actions. He is the source for Jewish mysticism and has influenced the teaching about angels.
Such abundant water that is so efficient in healing and restoring life are a symbol for us during these final two weeks of Lent for thinking about those who will be received into the church during the Easter Vigil. It summons us to prepare for our own baptismal renewal at this Vigil and to deepen our faith. Baptism has both a cleansing and sanctifying effect upon us. We recall the image of John the Baptist who preached a baptism unto forgiveness of sins and that Jesus himself submitted to being baptized in the Jordan.
Both the waters of Ezekiel’s vision and the waters of Baptism are effective signs of God’s Presence and God’s graces upon us. Just as the sanctuary and the threshold of the Temple were the source of these vivifying waters, so, too, is our Baptism of a sign and words the source of our spiritual life and the beginnings of our incorporation into Christ.
The Gospel contains the sign and symbolic meaning of water. The paralytic could not find a way to be put into the five portico pool at Bethsesda, but Jesus who is the source of all life cures him and he is freed to worship in the Temple. This is the third sign that John has given us to help us believe in the person of Jesus and to deepen the faith we received at our Baptism. We have already seen the first two signs, the changing of the water into wine, and the curing of the official’s son. We may wish to read the first five chapters of John this week in order to remind us of the presence of Jesus within our hearts because of our trust and faith in him. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.