MARCH 24, 2020
Dear Church Family,
In today’s Daily Offices from a Franciscan/Roman source, the readings come from Ezekiel (47: 1-9) and the Gospel of John (5:1-3a, 5-16). I invite you to read them in your home Bible. Both have at their center the image of water.
The prophet Ezekiel is full of symbolic imagery that bespeaks God’s abundant power to heal and re-create. You recall the story of the dry bones, the dream-vision where God sends Ezekiel to prophecy to them, and raise them from death to life. In today’s passage, God’s vision shows Ezekiel water, that flows from the Temple, forming a mighty river bringing life, abundance and healing. God’s desire is we quench our thirst from the fountains and buckets of living water. In these days when fear and despair drown out God’s voice, fill your buckets as you return to this image of God — the source who quenches your deepest longings. It takes work on our part – to make time, read stories like these, and catch what scripture is trying to do, with images and symbols that release the deeper beauty and essence of their words, and opens us into an experience with God.
Water is also a place of healing – a pool at the Sheep Gate of Jerusalem, the pool of “Bethesda,” which means “house of mercy.” So let’s journey to this place, this house where Jesus comes to us, too.
Each day the sick and lame await healing. An angel comes and stirs the waters. People push and shove to get in. A man has been here for 38 years. Someone gets in front of him, and he can’t get in for healing, he tells Jesus. 38 years, and he hasn’t figured it out yet? Today we might say he is playing a victim’s role, paralyzed spiritually as well as physically. This is his sin. Does he really want to be healed? Is it safer to wait on the sidelines in despair, than risk healing and standing on your own feet? Jesus minces no words, doesn’t analyze and argue. He orders the man: “Get up! Pick up your mat! Walk for yourself!” And the man, gets up, picks up his mat, and begins to walk. Jesus gives the man the self God has made him to be. At some point early in life we begin to mirror what our parents, others see of us. We grow in our self-doubt, doubt and struggle to believe, “How can I be that beloved?” That sort of sin grows quickly within, and begins to paralyze. Then Jesus comes to us. He wants us to see ourselves through his eyes, and be healed. Evelyn Underhill, the English mystic and spiritual guide of the early part of the twentieth century — invites us to make the time, dismiss the clutter of our minds, center ourselves in God, listen, receive and be healed. What paralyzes you, not literally, but with fear, doubt these days? What voices take you away from God’s voice, and weakens you? As I read recently, one little piece of advise — turn off the TV. Perhaps, in the evening, read Evening Prayer, and even Compline – and savor these gifts. You will sleep better, and rest in the Lord.
A suggestion from Franciscan Media to remember “water” in scripture —Place a bowl of water and a spring plant on your table today.