Excess of water. Our yard, flooded with all the spring rains we’ve been having.
Every morning in the Invitatory Psalm we pray:
Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
as on the day of Massah in the desert.
There your ancestors tested me;
they tried me though they had seen my works.
Of course I know the story of Meribah and Massah (Hebrew words meaning respectively, “the (place of the) test,” and, “the (place of the) quarreling.”) as told in Exodus 17:
From the desert of Sin the whole Israelite community journeyed by stages, as the LORD directed, and encamped at Rephidim. Here there was no water for the people to drink.
They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to a test?”
Here, then, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?”
I know the story, and yet it is easy to read the psalm day in and day out and lose sight of the story. So on Friday when it was the Mass reading for the day it seemed new again and for the first time ever I wondered: What is it that the Israelites were supposed to do instead of grumbling? What is the positive counterpart to their negative grumbling and complaining?
�Why did you bring us out of Egypt?� they said. �Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?�
First, I think they were supposed to remember gratitude. Thank you, God, for delivering us from slavery in Egypt. And they should have trusted that the God who brought them out of Egypt would not let them die of thirst. Finally, they should have asked God to send them water. Give us this day our daily bread. (And water)
Mother Church draws this lesson for us (and then takes it a step further) by pairing this reading with the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well.
�Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.�
�Sir,� said the woman �give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.�