Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.
As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.
The following readings are available for reflection:
7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
Epistle + Responsorial Psalm
This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.
Oxygen Core Team
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.
It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
I never appreciated rain until I lived in the Middle East, where the weather is dry and land is rather barren. Summer is oppressively hot, you could fry an egg on the bonnet of your car – temperatures soar to almost 50 °C (though it’s rarely reported). You can hardly walk from the car to the office without a mini meltdown. It’s so hot you can hardly breathe. So on the odd chance that it rains, I am always very happy. Never mind that the roads start to flood but rain provides a welcome respite. A time of refreshing coolness, washing the dust and dirt away.
The common theme in today’s first reading and gospel is water. In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is given a glimpse of what Israel will be like when the Lord returns and establishes his kingdom. What starts out as a gentle stream from under the temple, flowing through the temple, to the outer gate, and finally a raging river as it flowed to the Dead Sea. In a barren and parched land like the Middle East, water is a symbol of great blessing; ever flowing life giving and refreshing. And everything that is by this river bed is teeming with abundance and life. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
In today’s gospel, water is represented as a pool. People who were sick sought healing when they dipped into the water when it is stirred. The paralyzed man had been waiting for 38 years for someone to put him in the pool. Are we like that man, just waiting and waiting to be healed of our paralysis, our deafness, our hurts, anger, sorrow and unforgiveness? But isn’t living water always available to us – though our baptism, His Word? Did Jesus not promise us living water that flows from within us to those who believe in him? Jesus is the source of living water that we can draw from. “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” and “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb”. Wherever the water goes, it brings life. Jesus tells us 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. – John 4:14
So today, will we draw from the living waters that Jesus so freely gives us? Do you want to get well? All we need to do is drink up my brothers and sisters.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: In the dryness of our lives, during the days of heat and thirst; when regrets and life choices leave us empty, when we doubt your love – give us your life giving water, Lord.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, that through you we experience physical and spiritual wholeness. Let us not forsake the living waters that you so freely give us, bringing us to life, unblemished, clean and new. We thank you and praise you, O God, that however we may thirst, whatever we may need to satisfy our souls, you offer it freely and abundantly in Christ.