Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Dehydration
We are well aware of the effects of dehydration - stunted growth, lack of energy, even death! In today's Mass, the readings use the fact of physical dehydration to focus our attention on the more serious condition of spiritual dehydration.

Exodus 17: 3-7
Here, we read of the "thirst" of the Israelites in the desert. As a result, they were brought to a point of rebellion and a willingness to abandon their mission.

Romans 5:1-2; 5-8
St. Paul, in more mystical fashion, describes the thirst each person has for salvation and argues that this spirit of hope is founded on the certainty that God has first loved people. Proof of this is found in the Incarnation, God becoming Man, and His death on the cross.

John 4: 5-42
Christ uses the thirst experienced by the Samaritan woman to argue that whilst physical thirst is a fact of life, so is spiritual thirst; and spiritual dehydration has far more serious consequences for people. Belief in and acceptance of Christ counters this malaise.

Point 1: In recent years, a fairly popular phrase has entered our vocabulary -"I couldn't care less"! It is not always expressed so politely, but whenever, or however, it is expressed, it conveys an image of apathy. For some, its use is simply following the herd instinct. For others, however, it reflects a real state of mind and is intended to express a real intention to disassociate oneself from what is going on. Generally, such an attitude is the result of disillusionment. For example, the antics and posturing of those in positions of power and leadership fall so far short of what is expected that one can easily adopt a "who cares" attitude. Or it can be selfishness. As long as #1 is OK, why worry. Whatever the reason, such an attitude invariably indicates a smallness of spirit. In the physical world, stunted growth results from dehydration - no water, no life. And it is no different in the spiritual domain. Spiritual dehydration shows itself in terms of tiredness and indifference; a "what-the-heck" attitude or, at worst, an angry rebellious frame of mind.

Point 2: To what extent do we resemble the characters described in today's readings? The Israelites ....? at a point ready to rebel and to abandon our spiritual journey? The Samaritan woman.....? a clear case of stunted spiritual growth; a several time failure in the field of marriage, she now finds herself divorced from the community in which she has to live - a social outcast. One can image the weariness, the loneliness and the depression she must have felt. But, although down, she was not completely out. There was sufficient spark in her, firstly, to challenge Christ and then to grasp His meaning. Then, finally, to go off and make His message known - that she had met and recognised the source of Living Water.

Conclusion: Practically, are we spiritually dehydrated? Are we apathetic in our approach to our religious commitment? Can it be said, as did Rhett Butler in "Gone with the Wind" - "Frankly, my dear I don't give a damn"!

Scriptural reference: "They did not thirst when he led them through deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split open the rock and the water gushed out" (Isaiah 48:21)