There is a way of talking about the Christian life that Franciscans speak of.   They say Francis wanted them to do was to “SImply Live the Gospel.” It sounds so incredibly easy at first listen, doesn’t it ?  In this long church season, we will hear stories from Matthew’s gospel about the ministry of Jesus, and what it means for us to be called “disciples” … As we already know, these stories will challenge us to figure out how these stories connect to us, and how they will teach us to “simply live the Gospel.”

In today’s reading Jesus speaks about giving a cup of cold water to one of these little ones… it’s hard for me not to read that gospel and not remember a very moving scene from the movie, “Schindler’s List”.  If you have never seen this movie, or even if it’s been a long time, please go see it.  Oskar Schindler is a member of the Nazi party and a businessman who hopes to make his fortune in Poland as WW2 is underway.  He has hired a Jewish accountant and many other Jews from the Krakow ghetto to work in his factory, because the labor was cheap.  While walking through one of the concentration camps, he sees a little Jewish girl in a red coat, and later on recognizes her coat and her body on the top of a pile of corpses that are being moved through the camp.  In an instant, Oskar is changed… and he begins a journey that will take him places I am certain he didn’t want to go.  The scene in the movie that has always reminded me of today’s gospel, is a scene where Schindler is talking to one of the SS soldiers on a train platform.  The train that is there is filled with Jewish people, men, women and children who are literally stuffed into the train cars, unable to sit, unable to rest; they are hot, tired, and I am certain extremely thirsty.  They are being transported to somewhere else, probably to their deaths.  Schindler, complete with his Nazi Party pin on his lapel, grabs a hose, and sprays water into the train cars, and if I remember right, it’s under the pretense of making the occupants uncomfortable… but his real plan was to make them cool and give them something to drink,,, and we see people opening their mouths to catch the water as it pours down from the top of the cars; people are crying in gratitude for this small kindness shown to them by this German man…

It’s an incredibly moving scene.  It is a moment in the life of a man who was definitely changed by the circumstances around him and I imagine he was also changed by his own Christian faith which recognizes that all people are created in the image and likeness of God.  Toward the end of the movie, as the War ended, Schindler has lost most if not all of his wealth by using it to bribe various Nazi’s so that he could save the 1,200 Jewish workers in his factory… the workers in Schindler’s factory decide to give him a gift.  It is a ring, and on the inside of the ring is engraved a saying from the Talmud,  a collection of Rabbinic writings;  The engraving says, “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”.  Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.  

Every person matters to God and when one of us is suffering we all suffer… When one of us delights, we all delight, because we are all connected through God and through creation.  Every person matters equally regardless of who they are.  God created humanity because life is perhaps the greatest gift that can be given by a God who loves the whole world…  and if God loves the whole world, then we as God’s beloved must also love the whole world… not just the parts we like.  Giving some water to one who thirsts is a life saving act; we cannot live without water, and Jesus even refers to himself in various gospels as living water, water that will never leave us thirsty… when our souls are thirsty, plain water alone will not suffice.  We must have Jesus, this living water, for ourselves so that we might give others water for their physical thirst as well as show them Jesus for their spiritual thirst.

There are many who thirst among us; those who literally thirst for water, and those who thirst for justice and basic human needs.  To simply live the Gospel means that we who have water must share it; we who have social status must help those who do not have a voice… you and I are in the business of saving lives, even if it is one life at a time, because “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”.   What water do we have to share with others?  Who is Jesus asking us to save?  I pray for each of us, that we won’t need the sign of a dead child in a red coat to change our lives, but that coming to this place, hearing the gospel and taking the body and blood of Jesus into ourselves will help us to see those in our midst who are desperate for a drink, for a word of hope, for a meal or some kindness.  Even if all we can do is help one person, it’s one person who has seen Jesus today, for “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire”.