WOW! That’s the one word that came into my mind when I meditated on his Gospel. It is so full of imagery and, at the same time, it is full of meaning for each of us in this Church. Any priest or deacon could probably do 6 homilies on each part of this Gospel.
But throughout the Gospel there is one primary action that is occurring. Jesus is drawing the Samaritan into a more self-introspective look and gently leading her to a fuller conversion of heart and mind.
Here we have a Samaritan woman – not only from a sect that the Jews would not mingle with but a Samaritan woman who is a sinner. Yet, Jesus turns to her and begins to teach. He takes her from her adulterous life and earthly preoccupation to a deeper meaning – to a place where she realizes her thirst for water is more than that. He teaches her that her thirst is for a deeper spiritual presence in her life.
The pain of loneliness, and thirst for fulfillment in life, has led her down a path of heartache. In response, he promises to give her living water that will quench her thirsting soul for good. This water of life is his love, his presence in her life. Just by being with Jesus, and experiencing his compassion and understanding, the woman’s life changes for the better. Once she comes to realize he is the Messiah, there is so much joy in her heart—joy that overflows into her inviting others to meet him. She embarks on a new journey of peace and intimacy with God after encountering Jesus.
Isn’t that what Lent is supposed to be about? Isn’t it supposed to be a time when we look more deeply into ourselves and our relationship with God? Lent is meant to be a time when our senses – our hearts and minds – are pulled into a closer realization of what our spirituality really is.
Most of us here today have been through anywhere from 30 to 60+ Lents in our life. But I wonder how many of us really do use this period to sensitize ourselves to the presence of Christ in our lives and what that means? I wonder how many of us do or could follow the example of the Samaritan woman. Her heart is softened and she goes forward on a new journey of peace and feeling of oneness with Jesus.
But, what gets in our way is the very world we live in. A world that is so material that it consumes our every day. And, judging from the state of the world today, it seems as if materialism wins most days,
From my perspective, that is what drove our beloved Pope Francis to preach to the clergy that they should be out with the sheep – that they should have the smell of sheep about them. In this case, he is calling for the clergy to be out amongst the sheep that are lost.
Because, in reality, there are people who are far more lost than we think. There are countless souls who are lost to the real message of Christ because of the guilt or the inadequacy they feel. In the world that surrounds us we know that many people are thirsting for love. In their loneliness and isolation they are thirsting to belong and thirsting to know the meaning and purpose of their lives. Here is where we can give them good news; here is where we can evangelize them. After all, the whole meaning and purpose of evangelization is to share God’s Good News with those around us, especially those who are living on the margins of God’s love, those who are spiritually impoverished.
But when called by the Pope to minister to the lost and to share the good news of the Gospel, most Catholics would say “But that’s not for me – I am not worthy enough to do that or I don’t have the courage to do that.” After all, isn’t evangelization the job of the clergy?
My answer to that is “no.” Bringing others to Christ is the responsibility of all of us. And evangelization does not necessarily mean going door to door or trying to convert someone from their belief. Rather it is showing others through our words and deeds that we have discovered something special in our relationship with Christ.
But what holds so many of us back is not just the reluctance to evangelize but more our own sense of not being worthy enough or not knowing enough.
Look at the case of today’s Samaritan woman in the Gospel. She felt dead inside. That’s what sin and guilt do to us. They make us feel like we are dead. But Jesus had promised her living water. She received it. She received forgiveness. And she went into town exuberant, full of life, full of love and full of hope.
That hope exists for us too. We have the hope that despite our sins, God’s compassion and mercy has restored us to life with him. His forgiveness is infinitely more powerful than our guilt. If we believe that, then, we do evangelize through our words and deeds. People see a difference in us because we are freed from our guilt and feeling of inadequacy.
For our well-being, our emotional, physical and spiritual health, I am convinced it is crucial for us to perform three simple meditations every morning. I suggest that we all do these as we get ready for the day, maybe while showering, or doing hair, or shaving, or whatever. The first is: God loves me with an unconditional love. He loves me for who I am, not for what I do. Jesus loved that woman at the well for whom she was, a daughter of God, a sinful daughter of God perhaps, but still, a daughter of God. So we begin by saying, “Lord, you love me. Why? Because I am your son; I am your daughter.”
Then we say, “God forgives me.” The Divine Lover does not hold grudges. He forgives us. We need to forgive ourselves. Ah, but you say: “The extent of my sins are deep, the results of my sins are wide,” Think back to that lady at the well. How many people were hurt by her immoral lifestyle? But Jesus still forgave her. His forgiveness was deeper and more powerful than her sins. It is also deeper and further reaching then any of our sins.
So, first, “God you love me with an unconditional love because I am your son, your daughter. And, second, “God, you forgive me. Help me to need to forgive myself.”
Then we come to the morning offering. The third meditation is simply, “God you are with me today. Whatever I do, I do with you and for you.” That lady ran into town, glowing with love, knowing that God was with her. When the others saw the one who had been shamefaced full of joy, they ran out to meet Jesus. They wanted some of this, this love, this forgiveness, this presence. “Could He be the One who is the hope of the ages?” they asked. Then they came into his presence, and let him into their lives. “Yes, he is,” they exclaimed. “Yes, He is,” we agree.”
He is our hope. And His hope is the one hope that will never disappoint.