Drive through the desert of Israel and there’s nothing but sand and rock for miles – until suddenly, you’ll see an oasis. Wherever there’s water, particularly “living” water that flows up from an underground source, trees take root and flourish in defiance of the landscape.
No wonder both Jeremiah and the Psalmist use the image of a tree planted by rivers of water to describe the strength and inner peace of one who delights in God’s Word and trusts in him. That person doesn’t fear “when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The secret? Location, location, location.
Things that are well planted, with deep roots and ready access to water, can stand up to the heat and sun – even to bugs and drought. It’s the same with people. More important to our strength than our circumstances are the unseen things: the length and deepness of our spiritual roots, the condition of the “soil” of our souls.
As Catholics, we are used to nourishing ourselves with the Word made flesh and given to us in the Eucharist. But the Word comes to us in other ways as well, and we must be careful not to neglect Scripture. For in the pages of the Bible, our loving Father meets with us and speaks to us—
And the force and power in the Word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church; the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life” (Dei Verbum, 21)
That’s a living stream of water if I ever saw one! Rooting ourselves in the Word of God brings life and strength and support. It also fills us with THE Word, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 1:4 tells what happens to those who are not rooted in the Word: they “are like chaff which the wind drives away.” In other words, instead of standing tall, growing and blossoming and yielding fruit, it becomes like a tumbleweed driven in the wind.
Do you feel rootless, blown about by every “wind” of circumstance, trying to keep on your feet? Ask yourself these three questions:
- Where are you planted? Are you rooted in the streams of living water that come from the Word and Sacraments, or are you rooted in the cares and advice of the world?
- Do you “meditate” on the Word “day and night,” like the man in Psalm 1, or do you spend your energies soaking up what the television has to offer or listening to the world’s advice?
- Are your roots deep, so that living water flows continually through you and can sustain you, or do you depend upon a weekly watering from the Word you hear at Mass?
Set time aside today to read Psalm 1 (or Jeremiah 17:7-8) several times. Make it an object of prayerful conversation with God. Ask him to show you one thing you can do this week to draw near to the “water” or dig in your roots, and commit to doing it.
“Blessed is the man … [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
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This is part of a 4-part series that includes:
 See Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:7-8.