The salvation history is just loaded with wonderful stories and images relating to water. In the book of Genesis, the creation story tells about God separating the land and the waters on the third day. One of the best water images is the fact that humanity is given a new life when Noah saves so many species from dying in the great flood. As an infant, Moses is placed in a basket in the Nile River in order to protect him from the pharaoh. When escaping Egypt, the chosen people walked through a dry area with miraculous walls of water on either side. Jesus begins his public life by being baptized in the Jordan River. In his first miracle, Jesus changes water into wine. While hanging on the cross, his side is opened by a spear and blood and water come forth. After the Resurrection, the apostles see Jesus walking on the water. Peter attempts to join him but not with complete success.
The one that I like the most is the image of the Church as being a boat, the bark of Peter. Just as Jesus slept through a storm on the Sea of Galilee while the boat bounced to and fro frightening the apostles nearly to death, so the bark of Peter has for 2,000 years continued to be bounced, thrown up and down, turned this way and that and despite the height of the waves and the power of the wind, it has stayed afloat. That is the outcome of Jesus’ promise that the Church would last, that Jesus would be with us until the end of time.
The Church is always going to be battered by the tides of history. Confusion and convulsion is always part of human existence. The boat’s crew always needs to endeavor to keep it in as close to perfect shape as is possible. We need the right equipment, the right directions, the instinct for survival and certainly an ability to utilize the winds to move us in the right direction and not blow us off course. Those winds are really blowing right now but with all my heart I believe that the Holy Spirit is at the tiller!