For this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I continue my look at the Corporal Works of Mercy. Today we focus on the second corporal work of mercy, to give drink to the thirsty. This is an especially appropriate work of mercy here in Texas.
We as a parish have tried to do this in our placing a drinking fountain on the corner of 21st Street and Guadalupe Streets. We had heard, through Micah 6, that it was getting harder and harder for the street youth and transients, and the general public, to find sources of water during the hot summer. Through a grant from Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and assistance from our parish Knights of Columbus, we were able to purchase and install a public water fountain, much like those used in parks. It has three levels, one for pedestrians, one for people in wheelchairs, and one for pets. It is especially used in the summer.
However, we cannot stop there. Providing clean, safe drinking water to the poor of our planet is becoming a greater need and challenge. Many pundits predict that water will become the new oil. Access to potable water is increasingly difficult as the demand grows. We as individuals, or even as a parish, cannot do a lot that is effective about this. But we can make our concerns and desires known to our elected officials to support programs that will bring clean water to people who desperately need it. You can learn more about these issues by going to the Catholic Relief Services website, in particular, the article “Water and Conflict” at http://goo.gl/3ACgSS. You can also get a good overview by going to www.thewaterproject.org.
Water is such a wonderful creation of God. And while God has blessed earth abundantly with H2O, it is not limitless. This requires all of us to be grateful for the gift of water and responsible in its use. One of Pope Francis’ major concerns is the environment. He has written a beautiful and extensive encyclical on the environmental crisis called Laudato Si’ (available online at ). And I believe in Pope Francis’ thought that the works of mercy and care for our environment are very, very close. Therefore as we consider this second corporal work of mercy, I think we can legitimately extend the call to give drink to the thirsty to include being wise in our use of water. Being careful in our use of water, not wasting it, conserving water, is in fact part of that corporal work of mercy of giving drink to the thirsty. So how you water your lawn, how long you luxuriate in the shower, how you retrofit your home and business to install water-wise appliances, how you conserve water, is a part of observing this second corporal work of mercy. I think that is especially clear here in Texas, where draught is ever a possibility and concern.
Giving drink to the thirsty means making it possible for people everywhere to have access to clean, healthy water. That is what this second corporal work of mercy is really all about.