RISK THE WATERS
Coming in from fishing, with a partner, one sub- freezing day, a priest told some of his parishioners how the eyes of his fishing rods kept icing up. Further, when speeding down the lake in the boat, the water had splashed up on the deck of the boat, froze, creating some hazardous footing. The parishioners asked him how many fish he and his partners had caught in such conditions. The priest, having caught no fish, responded with a smile, "Catching fish is not the point."
The point is, the priest told them, "is simply to be on the water."
Many people feel that way about water. They want to vacation at a lake or by the ocean or build homes near the water. Water is indeed peaceful and calming. Time spent alone watching the water can prove to be refreshing. However, water can be threatening and destructive as well. Just ask someone living on the Gulf coast how destructive water can be?
The destructive power of water is grasped by the Scriptures. Genesis describes how the earth was covered in water. This water represented chaos, chaos God overcame by creating the dry land. God destroyed the world with a great flood. God led the Hebrews through the water of the Red Sea and then used the same water to destroy the Egyptians.
Because water represented chaos and death, it is understandable how important it was that Jesus remained calm - sleeping as a matter of fact - while a storm tossed His boat. Jesus demonstrated that like His Father He had power over the chaos of the water. To further demonstrate who He is, He walked upon the water, even giving Peter the confidence to walk a few steps as well.
It is no mistake that water plays such an important part in our Easter celebration. In the first reading of the Easter Vigil, we heard how God gave life to a formless void and separated the waters of chaos by the dry land.
At the beginning of our Easter celebration we leave aside our usual Penitential Rite to call to mind the water that was blessed for Baptism at the Easter Vigil. Using this water, we once again profess our faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We once again are sprinkled with the waters of death so that we can be reminded that the water that introduces us to the death of Jesus also introduces us to the life that is the gift of His resurrection.
The fisherman-priest recognizes the power of water to calm and relax us. Fishing is not the point. Being on the water is. Can we find the same comfort from the waters of baptism? Can we find the power of the Resurrection in the water and be willing to search it out regardless of the conditions? Are we willing to risk the waters of death for something wonderful?