During Lent, the Church does not follow any single biblical book in the readings, but tailors each day to a theme which both the first reading and the Gospel illustrate. In today’s readings, the living waters flowing ever more greatly from the temple in the famous passage from Ezekial 47 are reflected, as it were, in the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem whose waters, when they move, promise healing, according to John 5. And we remember that Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that if she had asked, he would have given her living water and that, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Water, of course, is the source of and sustainer of all life. But the living water the Lord speaks of is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit not only sustains life but makes ours everlasting. It is this water, not Bethesda’s, that Jesus brings to the poor paralytic who has suffered 38 long years.
But we must realize something difficult here. There were many very sick people at Bethesda, but Jesus healed only one of them. The healing of the paralyzed man is but a sign of a much greater reality. The reality of God’s love and eternal care for us. It is much more real than even suffering and death. It is there despite seeming all evidence to the contrary and available to all with faith. When we put our faith in God’s love, especially as shown in the person of Christ, the fulness of God’s love, everything else is secondary. Everything else can be endured.
The responsorial Psalm, Psalm 30 says, “Oh Lord, you brought me up from the nether world; You preserved me from among those going down into the pit.” This is the sign the Lord’s healing points to. Even in the worst situations, God has saved us. It reminds us of another Psalm. “Though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Healed or not, God is always at our side, loving us. That is all that matters. It is the one thing necessary.