By Deacon John Degano
The temperature outside was in the high 90s to low 100s. The water temperature was 87 – 89 degrees. And my friend with the pool was at Kmart attempting to buy chlorine.
She walked quickly past the aisle with the Halloween costumes and another one with fake Christmas trees and room décor but when she arrived where the pool products were kept, she was informed that it was a ‘seasonal’ item and they no longer had it in stock.
Who dictated that swimming was a seasonal sport? Especially here in sunny southern California where it’s possible to swim year round, even during (though not recommended) a rainstorm.
What are you supposed to do if your water’s Ph balance gets out of alignment for lack of chlorine? Let the mustard algae go wild?
No. If you are my friend, you bite the bullet and make a trip to a specialty pool supply store. One that the pool cleaners frequent. Where chlorine tablets and various ‘shock’ treatments can be purchased for your pool year round.
And, voila! Pool clean and blue again.
No magic. Just the right combination of ingredients.
What about us? Are we sometimes “seasonal” Catholics?
Do we only attend Mass on Christmas, Easter and maybe Palm Sunday or Ash Wednesday? Or when the parents (or in-laws) come for a visit?
Do we let our passions run wild all year long and then cram all our sins into one marathon confession experience that makes us more neurotic, worrying about the sins we may have forgotten rather than partake of more frequent confession and spiritual healing with a peaceful attitude of approaching God in true reconciliation?
Reconciliation should not be viewed as a seasonal “sport.”
After all, God is present to us 24/7. All we need to do is ask for help.
We see this demonstrated in an encounter between Jesus and a man who had been ill for 38 years. The man was lying beside a pool that was purported to have curative powers and, yet, the man had never been cured. He told Jesus that he had been there so long that he no longer had anyone to assist him into the pool when the waters were stirred up (by an angel) and so others were being healed and returning to their lives while he remained behind.
Jesus listened to the man and then asked him a simple question, “Do you want to be well?”
Talk about a shock treatment!
Jesus didn’t beat around the bush. He wasn’t wasting his time with someone who only wanted to wallow in his misery. Jesus was ready and able to cure the man. He just needed to know that the man wanted to be healed.
Each of us must ask ourselves if we want to be well or if we are content to just go through the motions of being ‘seasonal’ people of faith.
If our answer is the latter, God will let us ‘sit out’ our life beside the stagnant pool. But if we are truly determined to follow Jesus, we will not only get into the living water, we will walk on it with him.
In season and out of season.
John Degano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.