From the Pastor – March 23, 2014

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(Jn. 4:13-14)

Most of us don’t really know what it means to be “dying of thirst.” We may have used the expression before, but it usually was after a few hours in the humidity of a hot July afternoon. I would venture to say that there are very few of us who have gone entire day without something to drink, let alone a week. But to people living in the desert at the time of Jesus, water was something precious. Since rain storms were few and far in between, water had to be found by digging or collected for storage in cisterns. The idea of a “running stream” was something that would have been pretty attractive for someone used to drinking out of stagnant water. And so today we hear Jesus use water in his conversation with the so-called “woman at the well.” Jesus begins by asking her for a drink, and then He reveals something of Himself. And His revelation uses water as a symbol.

One way to understand His metaphor is to name the water He’s talking about. Let’s call it the Holy Spirit. No one who is alive is without the Holy Spirit. Whether one is Catholic, Muslim or Jew, God keeps each of us in existence. We simply cannot exist without God. In a sense, that’s the water in the cistern. It’s just being alive and breathing. But Jesus proposes something more: “the water I shall give will become … a spring of water welling up to Eternal Life.” What is this water? It’s also the Holy Spirit.

Most of us don’t remember our own Baptism, but each of us has seen a Baptisms. We know that the priest pours water over the person’s head and invokes the Holy Trinity. And we know that the water is only a symbol of something unseen: the Holy Spirit. At Baptism, the Holy Spirit cleanses us from original sin and give us new life in the Holy Spirit. And that Baptismal grace helps us live a Christian life, a life oriented toward Eternity. It’s “a spring of water welling up to Eternal Life.”

One problem is that we have the ability to slow the flow of that life-giving water. Like calcium buildups in a water pipe, our personal sins can slow the flow of that life giving water. Mortal sin can even stop the flow altogether. But fortunately, that same Holy Spirit, in the Sacrament of Confession, can restore the flow. Easter is approaching. There are now three occasions for Confession at St. Stephen Church. Get your water flowing freely!

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty