Notice that all of the appointed readings for this day concern, to one degree or another, water. In the Collect, we pray for water to quench our thirst and to “flood our darkened minds with heavenly light.”
In the passage from Ezekiel, the prophet relates what appears to be a dream or vision in which water flows below the iconic temple–so much water that it turns into a mighty river. The river then flows into the sea, and its waters transform the sea into fresh water. This fresh water nourishes fruit bearing trees to feed the hungry, and the leaves of the trees have the power to heal the sick.
The Psalmist sings of the sea’s terrifying power: “its waters rage and foam” and the “mountains tremble at its tumult.” In contrast he writes also of “a river whose streams make glad the city of God,” the very place in which God himself dwells. That river, then, is a source of peace, calm, and ethereal joy.
In the Gospel, the lame man cannot enter into the curative waters of the temple whirlpool fast enough. Every time they are “stirred up,” someone beats him to them.
Scripture can be opaque, elliptical, and inscrutable. Pilate’s haunting question to Jesus, “What is truth?,” is an example that has always puzzled and intrigued me. At other times, Scripture is blindingly obvious. Today’s readings are in that category.
Clearly, water in these readings is a metaphor for God, or, more precisely, God’s amazing power. God has the power to give life and to sustain life, and he also has the power to destroy it. God has the power to terrify and to becalm. He has the power to overcome the darkness of our lives with light. God has the power to level the proverbial playing field by removing the obstacles that prevent us, too, from being healed.
At the baptismal fount, and every time we renew our baptismal vows, God uses water to recreate us in his image. During this season of Lent, with the promise of Easter before us, let us immerse ourselves in the redeeming power of water–the redeeming power of God.
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: