Lent is a desert time. It is time we spend with Jesus in the desert
during 40 days. The mention of water reminds us how thirsty Jesus must have been during this time. He expresses his thirst at other times. The Gospels tell us that after walking with his disciples, he asked the Samaritan woman for water. So he must have been thirsty. And on the cross, he says, "I thirst."
Was Jesus thirsty just for water? Probably not as when his disciples tell him to eat (in the same incident with the Samaritan woman), he says that his food is to do the will of the Father. So, was he thirsting instead for our love, for our commitment to him, for our love of one another?
Do you thirst for God?
And we? Do we thirst for God? Can we if our lives are so filled with busyness, with material satisfactions? Maybe we need to re-think our needs versus our wants.
If we thirst for God, how can we quench that thirst? By keeping God in our lives, by spending time in prayer, by being mindful of God throughout our day, by being Jesus in every way to those around us. In the words of the hymn, let us ask God: "Fill my cup, Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul".
Lent is a time of fasting from material things but also, in a sense, from spiritual joys. It is a time when we forego the joyful Alleluias and the Glorias during the liturgy. We reduce the decoration of our churches and we used to cover the statues. And holy water - we fast from that also. Not that these things are bad, but we want nothing to distract us from remaining with Jesus in the desert.
Lent is a time when we sweep out the old as the Jews do when they clean their homes of leavened bread to prepare for their Passover. We spring clean our homes and buy new clothes. We sweep out our old selves to be prepared to become new selves in the resurrected Christ. In the same way, we empty and clean out our holy water vessels to prepare them to receive the newly blessed water.
Easter brings us the new: the brilliant light of Christ represented by the paschal candle; a renewed sense of the awe of God in the new fire; a fresh cleansing in the new water, blessed at the Easter Vigil and used for the Baptism of the new Catholics, as well as poured into our holy water fonts.
This new Easter water renews us and confirms us in our belonging to Christ in Baptism. It will continue to be a reminder of who we are as members of Christ's body throughout the year as we once again bless ourselves with it upon entering the church. We will value it even more after being deprived of it for six weeks.
New persons in Christ
Easter makes us new persons in Christ as Paul was after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. Just think where that led him. How zealous and tireless he became in the service of God!
Easter can change us too if we let its powerful symbolism speak to us. The glorious Alleluias of Easter night, combined with the newness of the fire, the water and the light, can be for us an experience of Christ as it was for Paul.
God can work wonders in us if we but open ourselves to that grace, that forgiveness, that love that God's infinite goodness offers us.
Let us not allow this Lent and Easter to slip by without touching us and making us ever more grateful for what Jesus has done for us and what God has so graciously given us.