Whenever we read or hear about water in the Bible, our minds should immediately turn to baptism. Water is the profound symbol for baptism because it can both give life and deal death. In baptism, by dying to sin we become open to the new and real life of God. The gospel stresses this. The man at Bethesda has no one to get him into the pool when it is stirred by the spirit.
But for Jesus, it is not necessary to wait for even a second for such action. By word, Jesus heals the man. But much like Sunday’s story with the blind man, the Pharisees cannot see a man healed by Christ, but only a man carrying a mat on the Sabbath, something not permitted on the Sabbath. Because when we think of our own baptism, it is always first and foremost about hearing the words of Jesus that lead us, because Jesus is the Way.
Do we consider the impact of our baptism? Do we associate with people and engage in activities that are likely to help us become closer to Christ? Do we see any responsibility to helping others learn about Jesus and to experience the profound new life God longs to give everyone? Have we used this season of Lent to fast from those things that keep us from God?
Ultimately that is what our season of Lent is all about. We do not do penance because there is something innately good in suffering, but because through this suffering we are able to focus on those things that are really important. It is not about willpower, but rather doing those things so that we can come to profound new life.