Sacraments tell us we’re connected to creation, Pope Francis says In his letter, Laudato sí. Water, for example, one of the most important sacramental signs, connects us to a divine mystery, but it also tells us about our life in this world, our common home.
More than something to drink, water is also a sign of life and death. In the beginning God moved over chaotic waters and made them life-giving. In Noah’s time the Lord moved over death dealing flood waters and put them in place so dry life-giving land could flourish. (Genesis 1, 1-2) Water is a precious, meaningful gift of God.
Jesus began his ministry in the muddy waters of the Jordan River. Its waters are still muddied. I doubt they were sparkling clear the day Jesus went into them. The world was muddied then; it’s muddied now.
Jesus Christ, the Word of God, entering the Jordan gave the world new life by the power of God. The liturgies of the eastern churches celebrate his Baptism in the Jordan more appreciatively than the western churches do. They see Jordan River, blessed by the Divine Word, in cosmic dimensions. It flows out to the whole world. Every river, every land, every baptistery received the blessing of God.
The beloved Son of God, entering its waters, blessed all of life. The waters of life can be muddied and chaotic. Our gospel reading from Mark today speaks of the disciples, caught in a storm on the Lake of Galilee, assured by Jesus he is with them. “Do not be afraid.” Calming the waters, Jesus brings life.
Water plays an important part in the story of creation and the drama of salvation. Today it plays a major role in climate change. In the last century sea levels globally have risen almost 7 inches and in the last 10 years have risen more rapidly than ever. The rise in sea level is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting land ice and the expansion of sea water as it warms.
This affects us especially in the New York/New Jersey area where I’m writing from. More than 20 million people live along our coastlines, near the water. Flooding and drought from changing patterns of rainfall affect the homes we live in, as well as our water supply for food and drink. The poor and the vulnerable will be affected most deeply as sea levels push salt water onto our coasts and further upstream in our rivers.
Water, in which Jesus was revealed in the Jordan, calls us to live responsibly and carefully on the earth. Give us wisdom, Lord, to care for creation. Save us, Lord, lest we perish.