Fr. Richard's Sunday Homily, January 12, 2020
Sunday after Theophany
May the Blessing of the Jordan Flood Your Lives
Epistle: Ephesians 4:7-13
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-17
Last Sunday night we blessed the water that we will use for the coming year. And there it is. It looks so very ordinary and it tastes the same as it did before the blessing with the addition of a few small pieces of beeswax; and if you took some of it and put it in a glass and set it on the kitchen counter, nobody would know it was holy water unless you told them it was, or unless you are an angel, a demon or a vampire. That's how ordinary it looks.
The opposite of holy water is not unholy water. Let’s call it secular water. Secular water to us also seems very ordinary. You have all used water today and you will use it again and again, but you probably won't even give it a thought, despite the fact that water is absolutely essential to our health and our life. We pretty much take water for granted. Most of us are aware that 70% of the earth's surface is covered by water. But did you know that 97% of all the water on earth is in the oceans as saltwater? So only about 3% of all water is fresh water and most of that is locked up in ice at the north and south poles and another portion is in the ground in aquifers and wells. Only about .036% of all the earth's water is in lakes and rivers. Or, if you calculate it in a different way only .8% of the earth's water is usable, fresh water. I think that's amazing.
The water we take for granted is an astounding wonder of God's creation. It comes into our lives as a gas in water vapor, or as a solid in ice cubes, or as slush in snow, or as a liquid. And it's almost always in some kind of motion, evaporating from lakes and oceans to form clouds which then rain back down upon the earth. Water is taken up by every living thing, both plant and animal, and yet it's never locked in because even plants and creatures return some water back before they take more in to replace what was used. Our bodies are 50% to 75% water, and without enough water, we know we will die. All the food that we eat is also dependent upon water for its growth, so without water to nourish plants and animals, we would also starve to death.
And not only that, we even use water to wash and cook the food we eat that grew because of water. And the pots and pans we use to cook were manufactured using water, as well as the clothes we're wearing while we are cooking, on a stove that may be heated from electricity generated by waterpower at a faraway dam. And those pots and pans will be cleaned with water so they can be used again.
Water is not only found on earth, but in other places in the universe as well. There is water on the moon. I read that in July of 2011 it was reported that a gigantic cloud of water vapor was found in space located 12 billion light-years from earth. It is estimated that this cloud of vapor holds more than 140 trillion times more water than all the earth's oceans. Now that is a marvelous thing.
A teaspoon of water (about 5 ml) contains 2×1023 water molecules. I did not count them myself. Other people did that. And each water molecule is made up of two atoms of hydrogen. We cannot see those atoms, but we believe they are there. For me, the thing I take so much for granted shows me, when I stop to really think about it, how marvelous, how wonderful, how unimaginable, how grand and how glorious is God’s creation. I don’t think I could ever be an atheist.
But just as marvelous, wonderful, unimaginable, grand and glorious is the grace of God. Grace is the very energies of God, grace is our participation in the divine life of God Who shares this gift with us freely, It us grace which guides us, inspires us, teaches us, comforts us, prods us, strengthens us, and helps us in so many rich and wonderful ways, building us up although we do not hear it or see it. He began a great work in us at baptism and He desires to bring that work to perfection in all of us. We, for our part, need to ask Him for His grace, to seek it, to be open to receiving this gift. He uses even the things of this material world to connect us to His divine life. Even things like water. Secular water becomes holy water. And we, born again by water and the Spirit, use it to sanctify our homes and our lives. May the blessing of the Jordan flood your lives.