Water, water everywhere! In the first reading we see water flowing from the temple of God. The water is nourishing and healing. All aquatic life can live in this water. All plants can grow from it, and because of the water, those plants can be used as medicines. It purifies what it touches. It makes the salt water of the sea fresh and drinkable. This water gives life and food and healing. And I think it continues to flow and nourish and heal all the time, day in and day out, even on the Sabbath.
But Jesus is reprimanded for healing on the Sabbath. He is at a place of healing waters. And there is a man there who is so sick he cannot even get to the healing waters on his own volition. He has no one to help him into the healing pool and so others get there and get the benefit of the healing. The man is at this place on the Sabbath. I wonder whether it would have been alright if he’d been able to drag himself into the pool on this day. I don’t think the healing waters of the pool take the day off. The story is that an angel stirs up the waters sometimes and that’s when the people go in for the healing properties. Does the angel come on the Sabbath? If the waters stir up on a Sabbath can the sick people get in? Jesus, of course, doesn’t need the water, he says to the sick man, “Do you want to be well? Then pick up your mat and walk.” But the law against work on a Sabbath concerns more than just healing. The healed man is reprimanded for carrying his bedroll on the Sabbath. One should carry no burdens. When it turns out he has just been healed and that is why he is carrying his bed, they want to find out who has done this work on the day of rest, against the law. They begin to persecute Jesus for doing work on the Sabbath, even healing work.
Like the nourishing water flows all the time, always supporting the fish, always watering the trees, always healing, the love of God and his healing energy never stops. Not even on the Sabbath. Maybe especially not on the Sabbath. I understand the whole idea of a day of rest, but sometimes people need emergency medical care on the Sabbath, and I think it would be preferable to be “worked on” during the Sabbath rather than dying because care was not available. Jesus seemed to think that this man should not have to wait for his medical care, for his healing. Like the healing waters that do not dry up on the Sabbath, Jesus was expressing that the love of God is a continual state. God’s love and his care for his people is our stronghold. And it doesn’t take a day off.
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