Water is one of life’s necessities. It is a natural gift; sometimes a gift taken for granted. The experiences of Awut’s life story as told in the Trócaire Lenten Campaign (2021) reveals the difficulty of life without water. Awut took her grandchildren into her care because their parents died in the war in Sudan. Awut recalls ‘the painful trek to escape ‘the terrible violence in South Sudan.’ As Awut and the family fled Sudan, they suffered from hunger and thirst. They acquired a patch of land from the local chief and with other people; they survived on wild fruits and greens. Life was difficult for the women and the girls in the war. Then Awut met Ajak and her family, while both tried to escape the violence in Sudan. They became friends and supported their families together. They tried to eke out an existence without shelter, food or access to clean water and healthcare. They are still struggling and need our help to survive each day. When people support the annual Trócaire Lenten Campaign, they help families like Awut and Ajak’s.
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote a letter, Laudato Si’ to every person in the world. The theme of the letter was ‘on care for our common home’. Pope Francis wants people to know how humankind exploits the planet by their lifestyle. He particularly speaks about water. He says ‘fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic systems’ (no.27). Pope Francis is concerned about water poverty in Africa, including Sudan. He denounces the quality of water ‘available to the poor’ (no. 28). He names diseases such as ‘dysentery and cholera’ linked to ‘inadequate hygiene and water supplies’ (no. 28). The Pope addresses issues such as pollution and scarcity of water. He says, ‘that the problem of water is partly an educational and cultural issue’ (no. 30). During this Lenten season, one can hardly ignore this water crisis and the suffering caused to our brothers and sisters.
The readings today proclaimed at Mass explore the theme of water. Both readings relate to the theme of the water of Baptism, as Christians prepare for the Easter season. The first reading (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12) portrays the vision of the river which starts from the Temple, where God is present. God reveals himself in the life giving power of the river as it flowed in different directions at different depths. The living water gives life to the seeds and plants. It gives life to the fish of the sea and life will abound in the flowing water. On the banks of the river, trees will produce fruit as their roots fill with water, flowing from the Temple. The prophet Ezekiel remarks, ‘the fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be medicinal.’
The Gospel today (Jn 5:1-3. 5-16), tells the story of the man with paralysis that could not get into the pool to bathe. Jesus approached the man and asked him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The man told his plight to Jesus and Jesus healed him.
These stories remind us of the cleansing which takes place at the sacrament of Baptism. The priest pours water over the head of the person saying the words, ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ At Baptism, the baptised person becomes a member of the Church and receives the gift of faith, symbolised by the light of the Baptismal candle. The priest blesses the person for baptism with oil, a symbol of strength. When the sponsors (in the case of an infant) respond to the Baptismal promises, the ear of the one baptised opens to the Baptismal call. This sacrament brings great joy to the Christian community for whom they pray with thanks.
VERITAS publications offers free online resources on the theme of Baptism throughout all the standards of the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme. These include the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book.
- Pray the Act of Faith/ Gníomh Creidimh, Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé, Rang V1/P8
- Mission Prayer/ Ár bPaidir Misiúnta
- Pray for people today who are suffering from hunger and drought in our world
- Read the stories from the Trócaire website
- From your Bible or from the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book, read the account of the ‘Baptism of Jesus’ (Mt 3.13-17; Mk 1.9-11; Lk 3.2)
- Find out from your parents/guardian/sponsor about your ceremony of Baptism
- Look at your Baptismal Certificate. Why is that an important document?
- With your family, you might like to visit the parish Church where your Baptism took place. What is the name of the Church in which the sacrament took place? What names did you receive at Baptism?
- Don’t forget your contribution to Trócaire. Read the story on the Trócaire box about one of the families.
Sr Anne Neylon