In today’s liturgy both the reading from Ezekiel and the reading from the Gospel of St. John illustrate the life giving powers of water, the essential nature of water for animal and plant life. In addition to the life giving power of water, St. John also portrays the healing powers of water. These readings are obviously preparing us for the celebration of Easter sacraments in which the catechumens will be washed clean and will be incorporated as members of the Body of Christ.
Ezekiel’s vision is of God’s Temple. There he sees water flowing from the foundation of the Temple. As the water moves away from the Temple toward the sea, it gets deeper and deeper. Along the banks of the river, Ezekiel is shown the lush, abundant and copious life is generated from the life-giving stream. The fruit of the trees serves as food for humankind; the leaves of the tree serve as medicine. As the waters reach the sea, it freshens the salt water and makes it possible for animal life to live in the sea. The river is also the home of animal life that multiplies in the water providing even more food for humankind.
The vision is obviously a metaphor for the Church and its sacraments. Through the waters of Baptism, we are reborn and become part of the Temple, the Church. The waters of Baptism open for us the food of the Eucharist, the healing of the Sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of the Sick, and the sanctifying and actual graces of the other sacraments. Through the sacraments we are united to Christ and share in the power of his Resurrection.
The story of the man at the pool of Bethesda relates to our experience in CUSA more than most of the healing stories of the Gospel because of the man's situation. He is not able to move to the pool quickly enough when the water is stirred to benefit from its salubrious effects. He needs assistance. Thus he has spent some thirty-eight years waiting for the gift of healing.
None of us likes the notion that we are dependent upon others. Part of the psyche of the American culture is that we would rather be independent. This cultural character may work for part of our lives, but eventually we will be asked to let go of our independence and accept the charity of others. We will come to a day when we can no longer drive a car, when we can no longer manage our medications, when we can no longer safely live alone. It is at those times that we can recall the man at the pool of Bethesda and the assistance he received from Jesus. If we keep in mind that Jesus acts through the members of his Body, today's Gospel passage will be reenacted in our own lives.