Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Waters of Baptism and Water for All God's People

An article from the San Antonio Archdiocesan Task Force on the implementation of Pope Francis’ message on climate change and caring for our common home by Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI
(Photo by Maricela Caballero)
Deacon Ray Jimenez baptizes Jace Jericho Amaro,
son of  Crystal and JJ Amaro Jr. at Mission Concepción
Pope Francis in his message to the world, Laudato Si emphasizes the importance of water.  Those of us who have passed through the waters of baptism are called to care passionately about all water. The Pope has spoken of the danger of climate change that has brought heat that is melting the glaciers, heat that is evaporating the water that people so need.  “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor;   she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” (1-2)

Everyday as we wake up and turn on the faucet to drink and to wash, we should live in profound gratitude and deep commitment to care for water and to share water. Two-thirds of our planet is water and two-thirds of our bodies are water. Water connects us. The United States has developed the capability to get bombs anyplace in the world very quickly to destroy things. Yet ways to get safe water to all people of the world have not been developed.  People who have passed through the waters of baptism ask how we can bring water to all God’s people. 

Photo from Women’s Global Connection, a ministry
of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word,
has helped people in Tanzania, who had to walk
many miles to get water, learn how to build
and use rainwater harvesters. 
One in ten people in the world lack access to safe water. That would be about twice the population of the United States. The World Economic Forum considers the water crisis the greatest global risk.      Pope Francis wrote, “One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. […] Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. (29-30)

I pray at Mission Concepción where people have passed through the waters of baptism since 1755.  As we approach the 300th anniversary of our city let us remember that Spaniards settled here because of the beauty and the importance of the water of the river. As Franciscans shared the waters of baptism, they also taught the people to build acequias to bring water from the San Antonio River to irrigate their crops.  The Franciscan missionaries gathered native peoples who were hunters and gatherers. Concepción was both a mission and an agricultural center. At times the native peoples would be hungry because they couldn't find enough food. While sharing the bread of the Eucharist the Franciscans knew they must not close their eyes to people needing food. From the founding of the Mission until about 1800 the Franciscans at Mission Concepción taught the native peoples how to plant corn, squash, beans, melons, and cotton. The Franciscans taught the people to plant orchards that they might have fruit.

A family enjoys the San Antonio River at Concepción Park.
photo by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk CCVI
Pope Francis notes, “Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” (84)   As we feel God’s caress in the water that touches our skin, let us speak and work more than ever to save, protect, and share water.  
Those of us who have the joy of living in San Antonio, a city by the river, can take our families to enjoy the beauty of walking, biking, and picnicking along the river, many miles of opportunity to learn about nature and thank God for creation.    
Reprinted with permission: “Living Laudato Si---‘The waters of baptism and water for all God’s people’,”  Today’s Catholic, July 72017, 36.

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