Health and healing are paramount on most everyone’s minds these days. And this unique moment of crisis has made us all painfully aware of just how interdependent and intertwined our lives are, in good and bad ways. My health and the healthy decisions I make (or fail to make) affect your health, and the health of our natural world. Same goes for the decisions you make—even the smallest, everyday decisions that you never had to think much about before. This has always been true, but today we can’t avoid this sobering and awesome reality. Today’s readings demonstrate the many symbiotic layers of healing that we need and God’s action and invitation in those realms.
Imagine Ezekiel’s vision: water flowing out from the Temple, starting as just a trickle, then becoming increasingly deep and wide, until it opens into a flowing river. Ezekiel sits beside it and contemplates the ways in which this water is bringing about a new creation. Wherever the river flows, every creature can live and thrive… every sort of fruit tree will grow…. trees that produce fresh fruit every month, year-round – what abundance, enough for all! And not only nourishment, the trees also produce leaves for medicine! In short, Ezekiel dreams a time when the created world and created beings live into their God-intended fullness of life, mutually supporting and healing each other. God takes the initiative and invites our participation in making this dream come to life.
In John’s gospel, Jesus walks resolutely among a crowd of those struggling with illnesses of every kind, those yearning and desperate for healing of their whole selves—body, mind, and spirit. Yet the first thing we discover is that there is a serious breakdown of relationships in this place. This person Jesus engages has been ill for a lifetime, and in all that time, no one helped him access the healing waters. How heartbreaking is that? Jesus, with a word of command, restores this person to mobility—so that he might return to community and fullness of life. Things go awry quickly, though, because this person chooses to use his new health and freedom not for discipleship—to be in right relationship with God and others—but to escape any personal liability and report Jesus to the religious authorities. We can make different choices: to do what we can to assist those who need access to the healing waters, and to use our health for the benefit of others and the praise of God.
Friends, this is a time to be extra attentive to ourselves and the web of connections we inhabit. By doing nothing (e.g., staying home) and by doing something (e.g., safely checking in on our vulnerable neighbors or family members), we can ensure health and healing for each other and the world. Today—even in small ways that make big impact—how else can we be about this divine work of healing the planet, healing our communities, and living with purpose in the health we have been given?