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28th July 2021
Last week I considered the incredible influence that the sea has on our mental well-being and how important it is for many of us to be near the sea and those who have great skills that ride the gigantic forces that the sea exudes and the way in which people are renewed by its effect and power.
Whilst walking by beautiful rivers this same effect can be evident not just by the beauty of the reflection of the water from the sun or the swarms of fish and insects who live in rivers like the Test in the UK or the Dee in Scotland. But because water is actually emblematic of us. St Francis said in his famous Canticle, “Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste”.
You see when I say water is us, we know water makes up 60-75% of the human body weight. A loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration, and a loss of 15% can be fatal. Likewise, a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water. This crucial dependence on water broadly governs all life forms. We are then naturally drawn to water’s essence because we are mainly made up of this crucial ‘element’, and maybe its swirling free effect reminds us that we are born to be free thinking in Christ and free acting individuals governed only by love, in a creation which is without doubt a moral universe. Within our moral universe it is being said by some Christian thinkers that the Corona Virus pandemic is a test. It’s a test of medical capacity and political will. It’s a test of endurance and forbearance, for believers a test of religious faith. It’s a test, too, of a different kind of faith, in the strength of the ideas humans choose to help them form moral judgments and guide personal and social behaviour. The epidemic forces everyone to confront deep questions of human existence, questions so profound that they have previously been answered, in many different ways, by the greatest philosophers. It’s a test of where all humans stand.
Pope Francis invoked sympathy for the most afflicted as he addressed a prayer to an empty St. Peter’s Square.
“We have realised that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other”.
Rowing together as Christians means that we can overcome the evils of the day, it means that we can work at the commandments of our God of the universe, by caring for others, feeding the hungry, taking the homeless off the streets, comforting the broken, and caring for the sick.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:31-40 NIV)
Most High, good Lord,
You reveal to us through the creation
that all creatures are related as brothers and sisters.
Grant us, Lord, the grace to see Your beauty and likeness
in created things, that we may grow closer to you in loving and serving them and in showing care for you creation.
Fr Ron Corne