It is a matter of fact that without water, our planet will not survive. All living creatures need water to live. Water is one of keys to life in our universe, albeit, a major key. The enormous pain from drought that we as a country have experienced over the past few decades must be balanced by the joy, and then the fear, of the extensive flooding across Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory, and even here in Tasmania.
While water is both a recreational activity and a place of work, many lives are lost at sea, in rivers and lakes. In the new age of climate change, whole government agencies have been established to reduce the damage done by our output of carbon into the atmosphere. In Tasmania, the Meander Dam now provides a long-term water supply to farmers in the Meander Valley and Northern Midlands. The debate continues over the location of desalination plants. Water is at the top of the political, economic, social and environmental agenda.
In our Christian experience water is a symbol for life itself. The Jews of Jesus’ time already possessed a deep and rich understanding of the meaning of water – it signified divine vitality, revelation and wisdom. In John’s Gospel (4:1-42) the author contrasts the water of Judaism (which cleans, satisfies thirst and promotes life) with the life-giving water of Christ. The Samaritan women to whom Jesus offers this water becomes confused, perhaps thinking that Jesus is offering her running water, rather than water from the well. But no, the water Jesus is offering will quench one’s thirst forever. The links to our baptismal waters are evident.
The ambivalence between water’s life-giving qualities and its death-bringing aspects provides us with a dilemma. In baptism we are reborn and made anew in Christ, and our sinful past is washed away, and we are new creations. When whole townships are washed away, the locals often use similar baptismal language, for they rebuild and start anew.
For us there is only one baptism. How, then, do we seek that living water once we have been baptised? And for that we return to the divine vitality, revelation and wisdom which water symbolised to the Jews. And these may be found by enriching our spiritual lives through prayerful reading of the scriptures, through participation in the living Christian community of worship, and through a life of good works and giving alms. The image of living water would then make true sense. As this Sunday’s antiphon invites us: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Director of Faith and Ministry
During Thursday’s Mass celebrating the (slightly belated) commencement of the school year, our College Co-Captains, Fine Fifita and Veyakhar Pather presented their reflections on the Gospel of the day (viz., Luke 16:19-31). Fr John Girdauskas praised and congratulated Fine and Veyakhar for their perceptive reflections and we have reproduced them here.
The gospel read to us today is a parable shared by Jesus about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man. In this story we’ve heard that although the rich man lived in comfort and Lazarus lived a hard life, when they died, Lazarus was taken into the skies and was by the side of Abraham whilst the rich man was in hades.
The message implied by the parable is an extension of one of Jesus’ teachings: to love your neighbour as you’d love yourself. From the point of view of the rich man, we can see that living his life in luxury with no worries for those who are less fortunate, is what lead to his fate. In the case of Lazarus the beggar he was rewarded with eternal life due to his suffering on Earth.
The lesson that I believe we should take out of this is that small acts of kindness that we can apply daily go a long way, benefiting someone or something in the process. I’ve found that the idea of loving your neighbour also ties in with another scripture, Mark 10:45 that says, “For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many”. From what I’ve taken, the meaning of this scripture, to serve others, relates to the gospel in a sense that although we prioritise our needs, we should always consider the needs of those around us first.
It’s all about the now. Understand that to impart positive change in your life, good can be done unto others to set off the first domino of transformation. We usually think that in order to bring about some sort of change in our lives, we must look within. Well maybe the answer is look beyond what we see in ourselves. The rich man was conceited and though he may have acknowledged the impoverished state of Lazarus, he did not spare room for thought on how he could help Lazarus as Lazarus may have helped him… Not until it was too late.
I ask you… What do you see in yourself and in others? Can you forgive yourself for your faults along the way and can you allow yourself to see the good that others are capable of. For what is the cost of forgiveness in return for a fruitful life? Allow space for healing to take place in your relationships… Your relationships with family, with friends, with your teachers and your neighbours, including your relationship with yourself. You may not get a chance tomorrow to do things differently or to be better, so if you have an inkling of thought on how to improve a situation for both yourself and another, act on it now. There are no good or bad people… There are only those who do good and those who commit wrong by themselves. By believing that the world is capable of good, we can impart change starting with the little steps in the here and now… for we only get a finite amount of time on this earth.
The events of tomorrow are not set in stone, nor are we destined to see it through, so if you were the rich man (or woman), would you have done things differently and if so, what would you do? Be grateful for your riches and your ruins. Be grateful for your wins and your losses… And most importantly, learn from your human mistakes and wrongdoings while you have the chance, because it’s never too late until it is.