Driving from New Haven to Vermont a week ago, there were obvious signs of the approaching springtime which arrived yesterday. Crossing the Quinnipiac River as it courses through Fair Haven, I could see that it overflowed and flooded the tidal marsh. Approaching Cromwell, on the right, there is a gushing waterfall clearly visible through the barren trees. The many crossings of the Connecticut River, especially in Hartford, witness the banks being breached on both sides as the river with a strong current courses to Long Island Sound. Yes, at this time of the year many rivers, streams and waterfalls are flowing rapidly as the snow in northern New England melts.
As nature provides us with this annual spectacle of God’s creation, today’s scripture readings proclaim the presence of water and its lifegiving effects. In the familiar passage of Ezekiel’s vision, the angel brings him to the entrance of the temple where he sees water flowing from the east side in great abundance. The water gets deeper and deeper until it forms a great river. It brings abundant sea life, vegetation and fruit-bearing trees. Our Gospel, today, presents us with the gentleman who for thirty-eight years sat by the healing waters of the pool of Bethesda waiting for someone to lower him into the pool. Jesus, the source of living water, noticed him and cured him.
These readings orient us toward the Easter Vigil when some of our brothers and sisters will be immersed in the healing waters of baptism and join us in the Body of Christ. At the Vigil each of us will renew our baptismal vows and be blessed with water from the Baptismal font.
These readings highlight the beauty and importance of water as a part of God’s creation as we will hear in the first reading of the Easter Vigil. In chapter one of Laudato Si’ entitled, “What is Happening to Our Common Home,” Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, devotes the second section to Water. He writes, ‘’access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (LS 30; Italics, Pope Francis). In that section, he discusses the waste of water, “water poverty” (LS 28) in many areas of the world, and the tendency in some areas to privatize water. Can we use the remaining Lenten days to examine our use of water and adjust what is necessary to conserve this precious gift? May this adjustment put us in solidarity with those who do not enjoy this essential gift that flows so freely in our homes? Tomorrow, March 22nd, is World Water Day. See their website, www.worldwaterday.org, for some practical tasks we can do to assure that future generations will have safe and abundant flowing waters.