Dear POP Folks,
Not many weeks ago, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a storage facility in West Virginia, polluting the water supply. The local citizenry were immediately reminded that they would not survive, much less bathe, keep their tomato plants alive or do the laundry without fresh water.
Within a day, everyone from the US government (FEMA) to the retail industry (Walmart) was on the scene, delivering thousands of bottles of water. This was at best a temporary fix, as the laundry still reeked, the vegetables were dying on the vine, and people were smelling more like, well, people, every day.
All of us who have gone waterless during a hurricane or a camping trip have had a taste of what it has been like for the folks in West Virginia. Water keeps us alive, keeps us feeling human, and reminds us how truly needy we are as human beings.
Lent is beginning. On its first Sunday, we will hear the story of Jesus in his thirsty 40 days in the desert. Later, we will see him on a journey, stopping at a well in Samaria. There he will meet a woman who has been thirsty her whole life. She's tried everything, including a long line of husbands, and remains parched and empty.
She shares that she comes again and again to the well to draw water, only to end dry and thirsty again. Jesus offers her living water that will never run dry, which will touch her at the deepest, loneliest, most thirsty places in her heart.
Her reply is: "Give me water so I may not thirst..." (John 4:15)
This simple cry is our parish theme this Lent.
Remember that you and I are thirsty, thirstier than desert dwellers or the victims of pollution. St. Augustine writes: " You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."
No matter what we try, without God, we are still thirsty.
Remember that the women of the Samaritan village came to the well to draw water, not just for themselves, but for others, especially their own families.
Like the residents of a burning town, we form a bucket brigade, passing on the Living Waters with which we have been filled and nourished to others who are burning alive with fever and thirst and drought.
This Lent, when you are tempted to avoid prayer or Mass, remember that you are dying of thirst, even if you are not feeling it at the time. And, recall daily that you have the Living Water and that there are people in your life who are dying of thirst.
Drink up and give other people a cup of water. It's why we're here.