March 16, 2009
I’ve been reading a book called Lourdes Today. The book covers all the different aspects of a truly complete pilgrimage to Lourdes. It is very compelling and it brings back memories of my experience there. I have just finished the seventh chapter entitled “ water”. The chapter begins by describing the event in which the Blessed Virgin requests St. Bernadette to uncover the spring. It goes on to describe the rich symbolism of water and the miraculous nature of the spring. The pure spring water itself does not seem to contain any properties that would make it miraculous but it is the faith with which it is applied or drunk that makes it miraculous. One of the priests interviewed in the book shed light on the meaning of the spring at Lourdes:
The Grotto was an unsanitary place, a place where nothing beautiful could ever be thought to occur in it. But the beautiful woman— the Immaculate Conception, appeared there. The spring was covered under the mud and the mire. But soon it was clearly revealed and flowing in abundance. When we were baptized and confirmed we received the Living Water inside of us. Sin causes it to be covered up, hidden. When we come to truly repent of sin, the fountain is revealed; it wells up in us and overflows.
Something that I became aware of in Lourdes was how the baths served as a tangible reminder of baptism. Immersed in water, I had a sudden awareness of being a new creation. After being brought up out of the water I wanted to sin no longer.
Today’s first reading reminds me of all of that. Naman the Syrian was a leper. It was when he followed Elijah’s instruction to go into the water of the Jordan River seven times, that the Lord healed him. It required faith. He had so many other sources to bathe in back in his home country. But it was entering into the water of the Jordan River with the obedience of faith that turned his skin like that of a baby’s.