Lenten Reflection by Deacon Henry Wiechman
John 4: 5-42
Many of us take access to clean water for granted. We are blessed to have instant access whenever we wish from our faucets. We use it for drinking and cleaning and until recently even keeping our lawns and gardens green and flourishing in the hot Texas summers. Yet, as the draughts of the past few years have shown, we can’t assume it will always be abundantly available. In the deserts of the Middle East, concern for water has always been a top priority as its scarcity can be life threatening.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for a drink. In doing so, Jesus shatters social norms which forbid contact between Jews and Samaritans. In being at the well in the heat of mid-day, the woman is trying to avoid being seen and likely judged by others, perhaps out of shame for how she has been living. Jesus knows her past but instead of condemning her, offers her healing, cleansing, and redemption from the living water that only He can give. The woman realizes that Jesus is the Messiah, and she is willing to leave even her water jar, likely her most precious possession, to go tell others about Him. She has become a new creation and seeks to “worship the Father in Spirit and Truth” as Jesus desires. The Hebrew word for Spirit also means breath or life. God is life and wishes to give us life with Him. The woman has been given new life and now wants to share the opportunity for new life with others in her community.
The Elect, those in RCIA who have been preparing to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil, have a desire for new life in Christ. In baptism, they will be washed clean of original sin and become members of the Body of Christ. This weekend they take part in the first of three scrutinies. The scrutinies are described by the church as “rites for self-searching and repentance, which are meant to uncover, then heal, all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect and to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good.” The scrutinies are also an opportunity for those of us who are already Catholics to experience again the same gift of renewal of life from God.
As we near the midpoint of this holy season of Lent, now is a good time to scrutinize what quenches our deepest thirsts and what nourishes our spirits as well as our bodies. Are we truly satisfied by what the world tells us to value: power, pleasure, and exclusiveness? Could we being doing more to grow closer to God, the source of true life, peace, and fulfillment, and to learn more about His will for our lives? Are we living up to the promises of our baptism to renounce sin and profess faith in Christ and are we open to sharing that faith with others? Is God calling us to reach outside our comfort zones to engage in creative, non-judgmental, respectful conversations even with those with whom we disagree? Are we willing to leave behind our own water jars, to answer God’s call, reaching out to those in need, trusting in His providential love, mercy, and care for all?
In this holy season of Lent, may we allow the God of life to sprinkle His living water onto our hearts, enabling us to grow closer to Him, to move outside our comfort zones, and to fulfill the unique role He has in mind for each one of us in helping to build up His Kingdom on Earth.
Deacon Henry Wiechman