“Two Great Evils”
August 23, 2022, 2:00 PM

Be shocked…says the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:12-13


St. Francis must have had no trouble with jugs and cisterns that were used for making the mud that held together the walls of the church at St. Damiano.  He most likely never thought about running out of water – physically or spiritually. 

Most of us today do not worry about running out of water.  We simply turn on the faucet and the water pours out, except if you live in the far west.  Think of Lake Mead.  The water from the lake may soon not flow as the reservoir dries up mirroring far too many places around the world.  

As dry reservoirs hold no water, neither do cisterns or jugs that are cracked.  Without water, all life vanishes.  Jeremiah knew that this principle also applied to spiritual water.  Cracked cisterns cannot hold God’s spiritual life-giving water.  More strikingly, God, through the voice of Jeremiah, calls this evil; in fact, two evils. 

The first evil is not keeping God as the focus of everything.  We often think we can do almost everything using our own wit and judgment.  Think of the constant homage we give to science, its luring promises, and constant off-shoot of profits.  God becomes a distraction and secondary to our mechanistic view of the world.  We, thereby, commit the first evil – forgetting and forsaking God. 

In the emptiness of not having God fully in our lives, we commit the second evil of attempting to fill a void within ourselves.  We create cisterns (so to speak) of our own making, and we believe that we can sustain ourselves by our own actions.  We fill our cisterns with activities that mask a life devoid of God.  We buy houses, cars, clothes, take trips, use water like there will be no end, and exploit the earth’s natural resources.  And... just to be on the safe side, we affiliate with a religious or spiritual group to pretend that we have it all – a complete life by possessing a God who does our bidding.  We fulfill the criteria for the second great evil. And....still, we still feel empty.

We have forgotten the truthful words of Jeremiah that the cisterns we have built are cracked and can never hold life-giving water.  We miss the truth that our life comes from God alone.  It is only God who can repair a cracked cistern and fill it with the water of life that God gives.  

The Good News is that while we may feel hopeless at times and may have lost faith in God, God never loses faith in us.  As cracked as our lives may be, God is always in the process of offering himself in order to repair, replace, and refill our lives with his presence alone.  God wants the water of life to flow in all of our lives. 

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. John Meulendyk