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Finding Hope in the Vastness

March 16, 2021   Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent (Lectionary: 245)

Reading I   Ez 47:1-9, 12
The angel brought me, Ezekiel,
back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the right side.
Then when he had walked off to the east
with a measuring cord in his hand,
he measured off a thousand cubits
and had me wade through the water,
which was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand
and once more had me wade through the water,
which was now knee-deep.
Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade;
the water was up to my waist.
Once more he measured off a thousand,
but there was now a river through which I could not wade;
for the water had risen so high it had become a river
that could not be crossed except by swimming.
He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?”
Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit.
Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

Responsorial Psalm   46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
R. (8) The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth.
R. The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Verse before the Gospel   Ps 51:12a, 14a
A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.

Gospel   Jn 5:1-16
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me,
‘Take up your mat and walk.’“
They asked him,
“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
“Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

By Sadie Curtin 

For as long as I can remember, I have been simply bewildered by the beauty of creation.  Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania, I had the privilege of living a short drive from Lake Erie.  Walks and bike rides along the lake, days spent on the beaches of Presque Isle, and even a view of the water from the windows of my high school library unconsciously instilled within me a deep love of the water.  

The water brings me joy and comfort, surfaces fond memories, and serves as a rejuvenation each time I spend time there. 

As a Clevelander, I am beyond grateful that the same waters that nourished my childhood border the city I love and now call home.  I find myself drawn to Lake Erie on days where I need to feel God’s presence, on days where I am seeking a bit of renewal, or when I need a place to walk with dear friends.  

In addition to close proximity to Lake Erie, my fondest memories are those spent with my family at the Jersey Shore in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  I find myself oozing with amazement each time I ponder the vastness of God while I look out at the ocean. Being near the water draws me closer to God, the Creator, and for that I am eternally grateful.  

There is no doubt in my mind that water is a sacred gift from God.  The psalmist proclaims today: “Come! Behold the deeds of the LORD, the astounding things he has wrought on earth.”   Indeed, water has left me feeling astounded in its vastness and beauty time and time again. 

For me, there is no other answer than to call that astonishment a gift resulting from the deeds of the Lord.   

I find that when I am able to view creation with awe and wonder, I come to know God more intimately.  It feels like a privileged window into the soul of God every time I ponder and acknowledge the beauty of creation. 

This spring, I am seeking hope in ways I never have before to help me get through the end of the hardest school year I’ve experienced as a teacher and the necessary stamina to endure the pandemic.  In order to be proactive in this effort, I am making it my goal to live with awe and wonder for the created world around me in an effort to grow closer to God. 

I pray that this spring I will be more intentional and aware of the gifts God has wrought on earth so I may be filled with hope. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Sadie Curtin is a high school theology teacher who finds herself most invigorated by LGBTQIA+ equity, racism, and the profound beauty of world religions. She finds joy in taking long walks with friends, reading a thought-provoking memoir, and trying to find the best pizza in Cleveland. She loves to dive deep into issues of social justice and would love to engage in conversation with you! Find more about her here

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