Baptism on the dry continent

We live in the driest of all inhabited continents and we hold a long memory of drought and water shortage captured in music, art and poetry. In a world growing more concerned about access to water, Pope Francis invites us to pray that waters may be a sign ‘of encounter for the human community’, writes Fr Brian F. McCoy SJ.

We Australians use the most water per capita in the world, some 100,000 litres of freshwater per person every year. A lot of water.

We live in the driest of all inhabited continents and we hold a long memory of drought and water shortage captured in music, art and poetry.

Despite this, we have been aware for some time that we face a water crisis. There are country towns and communities suffering water shortages as never experienced before.

We are not alone when it comes to water shortage. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have.

Last Sunday, 1 September, was the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Not surprisingly, Pope Francis sent a message for that day. Since his publication of Laudato Si’ in 2015, we know of his great concern for the care of ‘our common home’ and his encouragement that we each personally deepen that care.

In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminds us that ‘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’.

In a world growing more concerned about access to water, Pope Francis invites us to pray ‘that waters may not be a sign of separation between peoples, but of encounter for the human community’.

As Christians we have a very special relationship with water, as it is in baptism that we experience the sacrament of new life in Christ. Water is the matter used by which God gives us life and renews us.

Every baptism offers an opportunity for all those involved to give thanks for the life that water gives and with it the invitation to grow further into the divine life of Christ.

If we began our Christian life dipped in the waters of baptism, perhaps we can continue to find ways to remind ourselves of the blessings that water brings us.

Every time we drink, bathe or bless ourselves with water we might allow ourselves to be reminded of that relationship all of creation shares with water and our responsibility to take care of it, share it and not waste it.

In the spirit of St Francis we grow in respect for Sister Water who provides life to us, as Pope Francis says, ‘like nothing else on our planet’. We also have the words of Jesus to remind us of the blessings we receive and give in offering a cup of water.

As the season of Spring comes upon us let us be more mindful of the gift of water and how it is a blessing to enjoy, share and use responsibly.

Fr Brian F. McCoy SJ, Provincial

Main image credit: VMJones/Getty

Share This