There is water in the desert.
Under the sand, under the exposed rock,
hidden from human sight…there is water.
Not just a trickle. Not just a spring. But rivers….rivers of water under the desert.
Or so it has been claimed.
In the OT there are stories involving water found in the desert.
Sometimes this water seeps to the surface…an oasis is formed.
Sometimes there is just enough to satisfy human thirst.
Typically, a hole is dug by hand, a well of sorts…deep into the surface.
20, 30 40 feet.
Often a person has to be lowered by rope into the well to retrieve the water.
If you were alone, getting water is risky.
Getting into the well, the cistern is easy. Gravity is on your side.
Getting out is another story.
Once in the well there are several things to be concerned about:
and getting stuck in the miry clay at the bottom.
In the OT, sometimes people were purposely imprisoned in such a well.
That’s what Joseph’s brothers did; they put him in one of these dried up wells
out in the middle of nowhere, where they knew he would eventually die.
He was rescued from this fate by one of his more compassionate brothers.
This is what I want to speak about today.
There is someone here this morning…
you somehow got into a deep well, a deep hole,
and you can’t get out.
You’re stuck. You’re imprisoned.
It’s possible you’ve been there such a long time
that you have resigned yourself to your fate.
You’ve tried to get out. You’ve yelled up to the surface.
But now you sit in the darkness, alone;
letting time pass; knowing life will eventually end.
There is someone here this morning
stuck deep in the darkness of addiction: prescription drugs, pornography, alcohol, nicotine.
You long to be free, but failed attempts have broken you, broken your spirit.
You think that people have forgotten you…family, friends.
They’ve written you off…moved on to better relationships.
And it makes you angry…and you want to hurt them in your anger.
There is someone here this morning…
you have been kidnapped and then imprisoned by the world,
a world that eats people up and spits out their bones without conscience.
You now realize it was all a scam, a deception…
the promise of happiness through material gain,
the possibility of living according to your own rules,
the intoxicating satisfaction of always getting what you want, what you desire.
But the hole is deep…and you’re stuck.
You’ve fallen in and you can’t get out.
There’s someone here this morning
and you’re imprisoned in one of these deep wells…but you don’t even know it.
You’ve lived there so long, you’ve been in the darkness so long
that you have come to believe: this is what life is supposed to be.
You don’t cry out for help because you perceive you have no need for help.
Immorality has become a way of life for you.
Willfulness has become a way of life for you.
Isolation, self-indulgence, cowardice…have become ways of life for you.
Mediocrity has become a way of life for you.
There is someone here this morning.
You’re imprisoned in the deep well, the deep pit of pain…
physical pain, psychological pain, spiritual pain.
You have been rejected. You have been used. You have been abused.
And it hurts…so much so that it’s hard to think about anything else.
There is someone here this morning…a lot of someones
as a matter of fact, every one of us….
we’ve fallen into the deep pit if sin…and we’re stuck in the darkness.
We are all in need of rescue.
We all need to be lifted up…out of the darkness, into the light.
And as much as I would like…I cannot rescue you.
As much as Pope Francis would like….he can’t rescue you.
We are not strong enough, wise enough, powerful enough.
No priest, no pope, no bishop, no saint is the hero of this story.
I’m in the pit myself.
There is a hero….never despair thinking, concluding there is not.
We are not doomed to remain in the pit, in the darkness forever.
This is one hero, and one hero only.
In the story of human life, from the beginning of time to its end,
there is only one hero, one savior: Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.
God, the Father of all, the Creator of the universe
has not abandoned and will never abandon his creation.
Instead, inspired by His infinite love,
He has lowered a rope into the darkness of this world.
He has stooped…and reached down his hand in and through His son Jesus.
If you want to be saved, if you want to be lifted up and out of human misery
take the hand that is offered.
The one thing I can do is encourage you, invite you, even implore you…
take the hand of the Risen Lord….and never let it go.
There is no one in this church, there is no human being in this world who can save you.
No other rope will be lowered.
In today’s gospel the Risen Jesus rescues his disciples.
They are scattering, returning to the world, returning to their previous lives….
going back to the way things used to be.
He reaches out to them, reveals himself to them.
They thought he was dead. They saw him hang on the cross.
They saw his body laid in a tomb. They thought they were alone again.
And yet, here he is in the midst of them…
and their hearts are on fire.
Their hopes about the future are re-ignited.
They seek each other out, they regroup.
They come back together to share the experience of Jesus risen from the dead.
If you think about it, there was no other place for them to go.
No one else would believe such an incredible tale.
I encourage you, I invite you, I implore you…
take the hand of the Risen Jesus and never let go.
And then, like the first disciples, return to that place where other believers gather.
Because no one else will believe such an incredible tale.
Anyone who has not taken the hand of the Risen Lord themselves will never believe.
And if all you do is surround yourself with unbelievers:
at work, in your neighborhood, even in your own family,
they will eventually convince you to let go.
As they say: misery loves company.
Another truth often goes unsaid: faith needs company;
it needs the support of other believers.
Right here…located at 1680 Dixie Highway…is the Church of St. Agnes.
But it’s much more. This is the church of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.
This is the place where sinners, living in Ft. Wright and Park Hills, Kentucky,
are rescued from their foolishness, their ignorance, their weakness.
This is where those who have taken hold of the hand of the hero
are together in the process of being lifted up.
The Eucharist, which we share in today,
and for that matter all the sacraments of our Catholic church,
were never intended, and are never meant
to be a private, individual encounter with God.
Let this be known to you; listen to my words:
no one…let me repeat that…no one gets to heaven on their own.
For someone to know there is water in the desert
and not tell others
and not show others where it is…
I’d say that’s pretty selfish.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, bring back to life my dead spirit. Raise me up to new life through Jesus, the Risen Lord. Revive my spiritual sensitivities and desires. Help me to find and to drink from the wellspring of faith. Remove from my heart all that would keep me from gathering with, celebrating with, walking the journey of life with and among other believers. Amen!”
3rd Sunday of Easter
There is water in the desert.