Bottom line: We are thirsty, but we ignore the water that can satisfy us.
The story is told about four men adrift on the Atlantic Ocean near the equator. They were so thirsty that they were trying to squeeze moisture from the pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When rescuers finally arrived, the men lay prostrate from dehydration. After gradually reviving them, the rescuers informed the men of an incredible irony: All the while they were fighting for a few drops of moisture, they had actually been floating on potable water! You see, they were near the Amazon River - a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean.* The men could have dipped a bucket off the side of their boat and drawn out drinkable water.
People today resemble the men in that lifeboat - thirsty, but unaware of a readily accessible source of fresh water. Pope Benedict spoke about this at World Youth Day. Addressing a crowd of a half million in Sydney, Australia, he said: "In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning...?"
Speaking to the young people, Pope Benedict identified the things we are thirsting for: love that endures, opportunity to share gifts, unity based on truth, communion that respects the freedom of the other person. You can sum this up by saying that we long for three things: goodness, beauty and truth. But, said the Holy Father, instead of goodness, beauty and truth what our society offers is choice, novelty and subjective experience.** Those things are not bad in themselves, but to stop there is like squeezing water out of canvas when we are floating on an immensity of drinkable water.
And what is that ocean of living water? The pope answers in a single word: Jesus. Only by Jesus and his Holy Spirit will we find the goodness, beauty and truth we desire. Only he can give love that endures, freedom that respects each person.
In today's Gospel, Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to the disciples to distribute. The evangelist notes, "They all ate and were satisfied." Isaiah says, "All you who are thirsty, come to the water!" And in the Psalm you and I spoke these words of gratitude to God: "You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing."
Come to the water. God wants to give a gift that will satisfy us, a gift that will change us. By way of conclusion, I would like to quote Pope Benedict's invitation to young people: "God's love can only unleash its power when he is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it to break through the hard crust of our indifference...our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires." Come to Jesus. Come to the water.
*"The quantity of water released by the Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean is enormous: up to 300,000 m³ per second in the rainy season. The Amazon is responsible for a fifth of the total volume of fresh water entering the oceans worldwide. Offshore of the mouth of the Amazon, potable water can be drawn from the ocean while still out of sight of the coastline."
**"Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth." (See: Pope Benedict Dazzles)
General Intercessions for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A (from Priests for Life)
From Archives (for Eighteenth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Evangelization Project, Desecration of Eucharist - Mass of Reparation, Our Lady of LaVang Procession)
Letter to U of Mn President regarding desecration of Eucharist by biology professor
Mark Shea: P.Z. Myers Must Be Fired
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Creepy Stuff from Planned Parenthood (caution: video portrays minors in sexual situations)
my bulletin column
Parish Picture Album
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