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Tuesday, fourth week of Lent

March 16, 2010

Blessed Tuesday!

Father, May our Lenten observance
prepare us to embrace the paschal mystery
and to proclaim Your salvation with joyful praise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

Readings:
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 (the vision of the stream flowing from the temple)
Psalm 46:2-9 “The mighty Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”
+John 5:1-16 (the Sabbath healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda)

“I saw water flowing…from…the temple” (Ezekiel 47:1).

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…
He spoke of the temple of His body” (John 2:19, 21)

“One of the soldiers thrust a lance into His side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 20:34).

“Christ, whose side, as He hung lifeless upon the cross,
was pierced with a spear, and there flowed from it blood and water,
and these we know to be the sacraments
by which the Church is ‘built up.’”
-St. Augustine, The City of God

This water also represents the Holy Spirit, poured forth upon the Church.
“Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture says:
‘Rivers of living Water will flow from within him’
(He said this in reference to the Spirit
that those who came to believe in Him were to receive)” (John 7:38-39).

This sacred water from the temple of God
“flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh…
and there shall be abundant fish” (Ezekiel 47:1, 8, 9).
The Arabah is the Dead Sea Valley. The “salt waters” are the Dead Sea,
the life-stealing remains of the horrific sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah!

The sacraments, flowing from the Passion and death of Christ,
filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, empty into the “Dead Sea”,
the “salt waters” of our sin (“when sin reaches maturity it begets death”, James 1:15)
and make it fresh (“Behold, I make all things new!”, Revelation 21:5,
“if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation”, II Corinthians 5:17).
In this fresh water, fishes (Christians) abound.

“Fisher of men, whom You bring to life;
From evil sea of sin,
And from the billowy strife,
Gathering pure fishes in,
Caught with sweet bait of life.”
-Clement of Alexandria, “A Hymn to Christ the Savior”
[see Luke 5:4-11, Matthew 13:47-49]

These waters bring us nourishment and healing (Ezekiel 47:12),
just as they did for the paralytic, lying helpless by the Sheep Pool.
“Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk!” (John 5:8)
but, “Remember, now, you have been cured.
Give up your sins so that something worse may not overtake you” (John 5:14).
If we persist in the sin that these waters have come to wash away,
then we will be washed away with it.

If, on the other hand, we welcome these transforming waters,
then they flow forth from us to a salty world.
“The man went off and informed the Jews
[who had scolded him for carrying his mat on the Sabbath]
that Jesus was the one who had cured him” (John 5:15).

These waters deepen as they flow, as our sacramental life in the Holy Spirit progresses,
until we finally surrender ourselves to them in trusting abandonment
because we can no longer touch bottom (see Ezekiel 47:3-5).

God has led us to this life-giving water; some, perhaps, for the first time.
There the stream is just a trickle.
Others have been here before. For them the water’s ankle-deep.
For others it’s knee-deep, or waist-deep, or even over our head.

He bids us enter in…deeper than ever before.

Yours in the water,

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