If you can find a better offer ...
Near the end of this weekend’s gospel account of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at Jacob’s well, John the evangelist writes: “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman ...”
This passage strikes me as encouraging. Let me try to explain. For a long time, and with greater intensity since the election of Pope Francis, we have been hearing that the Church’s mission — our mission! — is to evangelize. In other words, we are all called, required, commanded to share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ. No one is exempt. It’s not just the job of Pope Francis, nor of the bishops, nor the clergy, nor lay people like me employed by the Church. We are all expected to do this; in fact, it has to be done for the Church to continue.
I don’t know about you, but I find that a little intimidating. Knowing my faults and weaknesses so well, I question how I can possibly be an effective evangelizer. I guess the reason I find the passage about the Samaritan woman’s success in leading people to belief in Jesus encouraging is because, let’s face it – she had her issues. Never mind her domestic history (Jesus points out that she’s had five husbands – and Fr. Patrick has explained to us that it’s entirely possible she was quite innocent). She also seems a bit obtuse. When Jesus offers her living water she responds with a protest about his lack of a bucket. When he repeats his offer, she again narrows the focus to plain old H2O: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
It was only then that Jesus broached the subject of her personal history and interestingly it was that—sharing her experience of Jesus in her own brokenness—that brought her community to him: “‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?’ Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified ‘He told me everything I have done.’”
So let’s all take courage. If the Lord can use the Samaritan woman, the Lord can use us. Let’s share our experiences of Jesus. They may be hidden where we least expect—in the most broken parts of our lives. And let’s not worry about looking foolish. Moses in the first reading might have looked foolish striking a rock with a stick. But it was the Lord who caused water to flow from it for the people to drink. He will bless our good faith yet imperfect efforts to trust him too, we can be assured.
Fr. Eugene Walsh, SS put it this way: “Jesus promises you two things: Your life has meaning and you’re going to live forever. If you can find a better offer, take it.”
Director of Liturgy & Music
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