Water Purifier of Life
By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose, and
Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose
Fr. Ron Rolheiser, a great author and theologian, gives two beautiful images for life: a metal wire and a water purifier. A metal wire that transmits power is a perfection transmission device. You put 240 volts in, and you get 240 volts out. You put 110 volts in, and you get 110 out.
Rolheiser compares this to our secular society when it comes to the way we handle bad things happening to us: If something happens to us, we generally pass it on, without any interference. Like an electrical wire we pass it through.
But as Christians we are called to be something different. We are called to be more like a water purifier. Regular water has impurities in it, all sorts of potential contaminants, minerals, etc. But when put through a water filter it comes out as purified water without the contaminants.
Rolheiser suggests that we as Christians are called to be more like the water filter than the electrical wire. We are called to absorb and to decontaminate what comes through our lives and not to pass on our the negative things that happen to us.
In today’s culture especially in our political world, if we are hit then we hit back lower and more viciously. It gets worse and worse and we know where it always ends up! In the first reading, Moses has been called through the burning bush. The Lord calls Moses to go back to his people to save them because the Lord has decided that mercy is what he will grant them. Mercy from all their failings and all the bad things that have happened to them. He will forgive them and rescue them. In contrast we have the Gospel where the fig tree is given another opportunity to produce some fruit. Here the fig tree has not hurt anybody, it has just failed to produce the fruit that it is called to produce. Still Jesus, the gardener, offers forgiveness and mercy, “Give me one more year to help this fig tree.”
Every one of us has been hurt by somebody, somewhere at some time. It may have been in the recent past; it may have been long time in the past. The purpose of our Lenten journey is to renew ourselves in the Lord; it is to till the soil of our planted fig tree. It is for us to forgive others outrageously. People who do not anywhere near deserve it.
The only way we can do this, is to really see ourselves as a water purifier, not as an electrical wire. We are called not to transmit what has happened but to absorb, purify and pass on a completely different reality. Today, we are renewed at the waters of Baptism in this Eucharistic feast to celebrate what God has first done for us, He has called us to forgive and offer mercy to those who hurt us. We absorb all the impurities and imperfections of our lives; and forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.