28 March 2017
The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross.
He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’
There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move; One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.
Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.
All living creatures teeming in it will live
Have you ever come across a social experiment where an individual deliberately dropped a hundred dollar bill and recorded the action of the person behind, after picking up the bill? A large majority of them, knowing that they had picked up a hundred dollar bill quickly walked or ran towards the direction away from the one who dropped it. They must have thought that they had gotten lucky and hid it quickly in their pockets. However, when the same experiment was done in front of a homeless person, they captured the honesty of the homeless individual returning the bill to the actor.
How much is considered enough for us? Has our Lord not provided us what we deserved, with all the good provisions around us to make us more charitable than being dishonest? In today’s reading, the Lord sets up our environment so that we, being the blessed ones of different talents, are able to better ourselves and make the world around us a better place. Where do you draw the line of being lucky to have picked up a note, or have you been dishonest because it is just ‘finders’ keepers’? Anyone who is honest would agree that if you have found something and are able to return it to the rightful owner, then make the effort to do so. Our behaviours and values have certainly gone askew despite the prestigious education received, despite already having a healthy bank balance. Yet, we can’t return the money found to its rightful owner due to greed and temptation. As for a homeless person who has no proper shelter, he perhaps has nothing material to hold on to, but continues to live a life filled with good values and honesty.
Most of us have been provided with a good education, blessed with a family whom we can rely on, have a job to make a decent living for ourselves. These are the little miracles in life that carry us through such that we in turn be generous to others. Do not be guided by greed, for the Lord has given us the grace to stand up and walk, in the way of the Lord, not the way of the evil and its temptations.
(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us recognise the miracles that continue to happen to us, not to take our provisions for granted, always looking out to take and not give.
Thanksgiving: We wake up this morning to give thanks for a life worth living, so that someone else’s life be made better because of me.