Water is an image running throughout today’s scripture passages.
I admit I am not too water-friendly these days. As the winter’s snow melts,
the ice dams are creating leaks in multiple buildings; water gushes around
tennis shoe-shod students walking across campus; and swift melting ice causes
flooding in nearby rivers and streams. Yet, I concede that a steady rain shower
cleans the walks and streets of winter’s salt and sand, gives a first drink
to dormant lawns, and prepares us for spring; not unlike the way Lent prepares
us for Easter!
Water is essential for life. Water is both mysterious and obvious. From
monsoons to floods to drought to gentle rains, water is as life giving as
it is dangerous. From bath water to bottled water, we take water for granted.
Yet it remains a life-essential ingredient in symbol and fact.
Ezekiel viewed the water “issuing from below the threshold of the temple”
as the very presence and power of God. The stream that became a river was
giving life to trees and vegetation, giving life to fish and all swimming
things, giving life even to the salted seas. As it is written: “So everything
will live where the river goes.” For the prophet this “flowing” presence of
God is creating a new Eden, a new beginning for God’s people. We pray that
the temple blessed river flows our way, flows over us so, we, too, can be
renewed and live to the fullness of life.
Just so, John tells us, the water in the pool of Beth-Zatha was believed
to have healing and life-restoring powers. Yet faith in Jesus proved to have
the greater life giving power. The water in the pool was not yet stirred
up before the power of God, through the person of Jesus, made the man whole.
Jesus can do that for all who believe in him. Jesus can make all of us whole
as we make this Lenten journey, but only if our faith in Him grows strong.
Lent is a harbinger of spring, a time to regreen our spiritual life, a season
to restore our wholeness; Lent is a time to refresh and renew our spirits
and our relationships with God and with others. It is a season to drink deeply
of the presence of God manifest about us.
The water of baptism makes each of us a new creation. The mixing of water
and wine nourishes our sacramental life. Jesus transformed water into wine
as a sign that his kingdom was near. The gentle flow of forgiveness makes
us one with our God and with others. Our compassion and mercy wash across
our relationships restoring vitality and meaning. Easter water will soon shower
us with absolving blessings as we renew our baptismal vows. Such is the richness
The power and the presence of God were symbolized in the water flowing from
the temple. The prophecy of Ezekiel is our prophecy, too, as women and men
who have a deep and abiding faith in Jesus. We too can believe that:
“…on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees
for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will
bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.
Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
So it will be for us; for such is the power and the presence of God in our
midst. As the poet wrote: “Lord, send my roots rain…”