Today’s reflection is on the First Sunday in Lent, Sunday March 24, 2019, and the readings can be found by clicking here. This reflection was given as a homily at the Deuel Vocational Institute, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in Tracy.
God’s desire is that all would come to know him, love him, and serve him, and be happy not only in this life, but for all eternity. In the very first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we hear these words, “God created mankind to share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to mankind. He calls mankind to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.” (#1) Today’s gospel reading shows us a very clear example of how God makes himself known to us—not all at once as in the case of St. Paul, but slowly, in various ways over time—like a slow rising tide.
I think there are a few important take-aways from this Gospel story. The first is that Jesus is a boundary breaker. The second is that time with Jesus is always an opportunity to know him more fully. And finally, the result of knowing Jesus places a claim on us, and demands that respond.
Jesus is a boundary breaker. In Jesus’ day men didn’t talk to women in the absence of their father or husband. Any male to female contact would have to be arranged. Worse yet is that this woman is not even of his same religious view. She is a Samaritan—and for a lot of reasons the Jews and Samaritans (much like Catholics and Protestants today) didn’t always see eye-to eye on theological issues. She is a woman and she is a Samaritan…and Jesus doesn’t care.
Jesus does not see male or female, Samaritan or Jew, he only sees children of his heavenly Father. What do we see? Do we see divisions, rivalries, and an ugly past? Do we make distinctions: Black, white, brown skin? Do we divide along where you’re from or what language you speak? Do we judge based on whether a person is incarcerated or free? Rich or poor?
When I was in the Marines, there was no such thing as the color of skin—we were all green. It is true that we had light green Marines, and dark green Marines, but we were all Marines—lean, mean, and, well…green.
Can we make efforts to overcome boundaries? Can we say that we are first and foremost children of our heavenly father? Can we ask God to heal our eyes so that we see one regardless of color or origin? Can we see one, no matter if Catholic or Protestant? Can we see one whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, believer, unbeliever or can’t hardly believe? Here’s the point—we’ve got to stop dividing and, like Jesus, be willing to start uniting. God wants everyone to share in his life…that’s everyone.
The second thing that the Gospel teaches us today is that Jesus sometimes takes it slow and kinda creeps up on you as he enters more fully into your life. At first Jesus is no more than another Jewish man. She says, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” And that’s okay. Jesus doesn’t scold her, he spends more time with her. He starts telling her a bit about herself! In almost no time he goes from being a Jew to a prophet. She says, “I can see that you are a prophet.” Isn’t that cool? She spends a little time with the Lord and her eyes are opened a little wider. She’s able to see a little more clearly. Finally, she says, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” And then her eyes are finally open-wide to see, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking with you.’” WHAAAAT?! That’s amazing! I wish I was there to see her face! (Sung) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.
Do we have eyes to see? Do we find ourselves in the depths of amazing grace? Are we growing in our understanding not only of who Jesus is, but who Jesus is for me? If not, we need to start spending a lot more time with the Lord—time in quiet prayer, time in God’s Word, time with others of who are on the same road. Be prepared when Jesus goes from just another Jew to your Lord and Messiah…well, things can’t ever be the same again, can they? We can’t hardly go back to the same as we were before, can we?
And finally, to know Jesus as Lord and Messiah just makes you want to go out and tell the whole darn world! When you start thinking differently. When you start talking differently. When you start acting differently–well, someone is going to notice the Good you have become.
That woman was so excited that she left everything and ran right into town and started blabbing to everyone who would listen! “I found the Messiah! I found the Messiah! Everybody, listen! It’s him! He knows me—inside and out! He knows me! For better or worse, he loves me.” And people will listen. The Scriptures say, “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.’”
And that’s what we call evangelization. Evangelization is breaking down barriers, falling in love with Jesus, and sharing the truth of Jesus and His Church to anyone who will listen! And how much rejoicing there is in heaven when just one person turns away from sin and follows the Lord. My brothers, Jesus broke down barriers to love us, shared his life with us, and saved us. Shouldn’t we, out of gratitude, break down some barriers of our own. Shouldn’t we be willing to love him a little more and spend time with him a little more each day? God can be known. And wants you to know him, and love him, and tell others about it. Will you? Amen.
Do I more often see barriers or bridges? Do I courageously reach out to others that are different than me or do I tend to hang around those who look like me, think like me, and act like me?
How much time do I spend with the Lord? Am I growing daily to know him more, and allow him to know me more deeply?
Does the love of God compel me to share with others? Have I ever invited others to Sunday service? Do I talk about my faith? Or is it just something I do for an hour at 5am one day a week?