Do you believe that access to clean water is a right? I do. I think the people of Flint do too. So what’s the hold up? Would you knowingly give your kids lead tainted water? Probably not. In the school where I volunteer all of the drinking fountains have signs saying “Don’t drink this water.” Right next to the fountains are water coolers with little paper cups. What’s wrong with this picture? If the same water that is piped into our schools is tainted, what about the water that flows from our taps at home? Do schools have a different water supply than homes? Will somebody else fix the problem? Will you? Water is life. That is the theme of the readings from today’s liturgy.
8 He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome.
9 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. (Ezekiel 47:8-9)
I think we take for granted that clear streams and healthy water will always be around. Someone else is in charge of making sure they remain clean. Cuts to the E.P.A. budget threaten this assumption. Cleaning up oil spills from pipelines running across rivers and streams will become more difficult. Safeguarding the healing power of clean water may become untenable if the budget cuts too deeply. This earth of ours is the only one we have. We need to take care of it like we take care of our own belongings. We aren’t alone, we are a community and as such need to take care of one another.
The Gospel story today is about a crippled guy who hangs out at a healing pool. When the water is disturbed the first one into the pool gets cured of their ailment. Every time the water is stirred, the man, who has been waiting for years, tries desperately to make it into the water. Others are faster than he and he gets no help, until an anonymous preacher heals him. Initially the man doesn’t know the name of the man who healed him and is berated by the religious leaders for carrying his mat on the Sabbath, a no-no. They didn’t rejoice at the man’s new ability to walk, they only focused on the “law.” Healing doesn’t know what day it is.
8 Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around.’
9 The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and started to walk around. Now that day happened to be the Sabbath,
10 so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the Sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’
11 He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around.” ‘(John 5:8-11)
Jesus saw the guy by the pool and in a compassionate move, healed him…on the Sabbath. I guess with us, there is no convenient time to do service. When someone needs water, we don’t check the day or the regulations before we give it to them. We just do it.
…and so it goes