Tuesday of the fourth week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
Wade in the Water
The living, fruitful, life-giving waters of the Temple in Jerusalem were the hopeful imaging of a life of promise. From the barren desserts of the countryside, the People of God looked to the heights were their misery might be assuaged. Their imagery compounded waters upon waters, flowing freely, supplying life abundantly – something that no generation had known, yet had longed for since time immemorial. The promise was in the water.
I stood on the heights of the dessert in El Paso, Texas, looking across a river that cut through the desert. These waters suggested promise and life to those who came to it from the south. (“Wade in the water”) There in Ciudad Juarez and the entire length of the Rio Grande thousands come weekly to those waters, to wade across into a land of hope and possibility. Sadly that venture turns them into fugitives rather than pilgrims, and they are sought and tossed back across the waters, some thwarted and discouraged, others even more determined to go for the hope.
In the Catholic Worker House in El Paso I got to meet scores of women and children who were able to accomplish that crossing. (“Wade in the water children”) Some were injured in doing so, while others less fortunate die on the way. Some were in hiding for fear of capture and dreadful return to their destiny of poverty and fear. The determination and faith of those women, their stories of failed attempts and this small success of getting at least a half mile into the “land of promise” stirred my soul. (“Wade in the water”)
Christ saw the man at the pool, unable to reach the promise of the waters due to his infirmity. The pool promised healing powers at their disturbance. The pool would be just a pool of water until God “troubled the water” and as the vibrations rippled the water, the sick would come forward to touch the water and be healed. The promise was in the water. (“God’s gonna trouble the water.”)
Of course we know that Christ is the Living Water, come down to be among us, to bring us not just life but the promise of Eternal Life. Yet in this time, between today and eternity, we are called to lead one another to the water, be it to heal or comfort, or to be compassionate toward those who daily chance wading in the water to freedom and hope. The water is there spiritually and physically as in the days of Ezekiel, 600 years later in the Gospels or today, this very day, just 1200 miles from our campus. We come to the water. We reach for the promise.
Ruth Cochran is Facilities Coordinator at St. Francis Xavier College Church.