Ezekiel 47: 1-9, 12
John 5:1-3, 5-16


The life-giving and life-affirming power of water trickles and flows through both of today’s readings. In Ezekiel it is a stream becoming a mighty river feeding and nurturing the ocean and everything it overlaps on the way. Wherever it flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. In John, at the pool of Bethseda, crowds of sick people wait for the waters to move so that they may immerse themselves and be healed.

Water: the hope and the life for all of us, the symbol and reality of our physical and spiritual sustenance.

And yet this life-sustaining water – the most traded and commodified product on Earth – is under threat worldwide. A recent landmark UN report indicates the world is facing an imminent water crisis, with demand for freshwater outstripping supply by 40% by 2030. The physical realities of our water use are alarming and like so much of human endeavour reflect greed, extravagance and exploitation, even in the face of humanitarian wisdom, caution and reason.

Is this also the case with our spiritual life? Are we running out of Hope? Much of what we see in the world would seem to suggest that we are, even in our Church here in Australia, which continues headlong into decline. Like our waterways it is often fraught with self-interest, blind to the common good and unaware of the crisis it faces.

What to do? In the face of criticism and blinkered adherence to the rules of the established order, Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat and walk, and not to sin any more.

For us, perhaps we too need to get up, to shed the shackles of our afflictions and trace the river back through all its pollutants to its source, to the purity of the spring: the Word of the Lord.

Phil Page  is a member of the St Joseph’s Hobart Parish