Water is very much in the news these days. The news out of Japan is tragic. We usually associate water with life but in Japan and a couple of years ago in Indonesia and just recently in Australia we saw the destructive power of water. Over the last week we’ve seen scene after scene of a wall of water sweeping everything before it, homes, autos, ships and men, women and children. This was not life giving water, it was destructive and death-dealing. It will take years for the good people of Japan to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Our first reading and the gospel are about thirsty people. Try to image being caught with the Israelites in a rock strewn desert with little relief from a blazing sun. You worry about your family, your flocks and you’d be parched. No wonder the people were angry with Moses. No wonder their question, ”why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill with thirst?”
Our gospel story is about a woman wanting water. This women came to the village well looking for water and found so much more. A thirsty Jesus promises this woman, ”the one who drinks of the water I will give will never be thirsty; they will have a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
Water is so much a part of our lives. We cannot live without it. We know that 60% of our body is water. For The first nine months of our lives we thrive in water. The first primitive life forms on our planet began in the oceans.
The oceans, the great and small lakes of the planet, the rivers, the streams, these are all part of God’s good creation and are vital to the health of Earth. We here in Canada are blessed with an abundance of water yet we live with a great contradiction: many of our First Nation communities are without safe drinking water. The truth of the matter is that 18% of the world’s population has no access to safe drinking water and 1.6 million people die every year from drinking polluted water.
One of the realities of our present world wide environmental crisis is we have polluted the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes with which our Creator blessed us. Did you know that the original name for the Great Lakes was “The Sweet Water Seas”? That sounds so beautiful, so pristine. No one in their right mind would go down to the lakefront and drink a glass of water from Lake Ontario and the tragedy is most the city beaches are closed during the summer because of e. coli. In the name of progress and development we have poisoned our precious, life giving rivers and lakes.
Just this last year Pope Benedict XV1 has this to say about the world’s water:
”Attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle, which is of prime importance for life on earth… the ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good.”
Can we bring ourselves to imagine that the oceans, the lakes and rivers of Earth are thirsting? They are thirsting for healing and wholeness, they are thirsting for their pristine integrity. They are thirsting.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we come to thirst for the living water with which Christ will vitalize our lives of faith. We pray we come to thirst for a deeper awareness with our oneness with the rest of God’s good creation. We pray we come to thirst for a healing of the waters with which we are blessed and we pray that we come to use our sacred waters wisely.