This Lent we invite you to enjoy these reflections on the Sunday readings. These themes were used for our Lenten Days of Prayer, so enjoy a bit of a day retreat at your own convenience.
March 15, 2020
The Woman at the Well: A Story of Conversion by Debbie Koop, MAT, Spiritual Director
The story of the woman at the well is essentially a story of conversion. Jesus meets a woman and directly engages her in a conversation in order to proclaim to her the Good News. The writer of John’s Gospel reveals how Jesus simply evangelizes – how he proclaims the good news of redemption to one sinner at a time. This week in our Lenten Day of reflection, we will see how Jesus does this and what the implications are for us, both as sinners ourselves encountering Jesus and as Christians who are called to spread the Gospel to others.
We begin by discovering what the kerygma is – a Greek word meaning to proclaim, to cry out. It refers to the initial and essential proclamation of the gospel message. (See CatholicAnswers.com) This is what Jesus is doing with the Samaritan woman. As a Samaritan, she worships in a different way and with different beliefs than the Jews. They do not associate together, yet Jesus initiates the conversation with a Samaritan, a woman, and an outcast to proclaim the Good News.
Jesus then invites her to ask for “Living Water,” which represents the life-giving grace of the Holy Spirit (John 4:10).Though he knows that she’s been living an immoral life, there is no condemnation, no prior request that she change her life.Jesus comes to us, too, where we are weakest and most ashamed and offers us grace. He wants to meet us right where we are the most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Jesus’ offer of “Living Water” is an invitation to a life of hope and communion, the very things the woman doesn’t have but is seeking. Where am I most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks? What’s the sin I confess over and over and need God’s grace to overcome?
The well represents the world. The water jar that the woman carries, St. Augustine said, is symbolic of our fallen desire thatdraws pleasure from the dark wells of the world, but is never satisfied (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Scott Hahn). “Our desire for happiness, joy and human fulfillment can never be quenched by worldly things” (New Collegeville Commentary). Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). What do we seek when we go to the well? With what do we attempt to slake our thirst? It might be one of the four P’s: power, prestige, possessions and pleasure. How would you describe your own thirst and hunger for God or spiritual things?
St. John shows us how the woman at the well progresses in her belief by the ways she addresses Jesus. Jesus is a Jew, then she calls him Sir or Lord, then she calls him a prophet, and finally she believes him when Jesus reveals he is the Messiah. “I am he” (John 4:26). I imagine that she just fell down and worshipped on the spot. Then, she leaves her jar and runs to tell the whole town. What does Jesus want us to leave behind at the well?
Unable to contain her joy and belief, the woman goes out to spread the Good News. “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John 4:29). As a result, many Samaritans came to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed one, the prophet which Moses had foretold. So, too, must we go out and share the Good News that God loves each one of us, offers us mercy and grace and desires to be intimately involved in our lives. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The lay faithful, precisely as members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel: they are prepared for this work by the sacraments of Christian initiation and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit”(Ecclesia in American 66). The woman at the well was so changed by her encounter with Jesus that she ran to tell others about it. It’s safe to say that this encounter changed her life.
How has meeting Jesus changed us? Let us pray for the zeal to share that with others.
March 7, 2020
Jayne Krim, a member of the Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Retreat Team gave the First Lenten Day of Prayer at the Retreat Center on Thursday, March 5. Below is a summary of her conference on the Transfiguration.
Reflections on the Transfiguration of Jesus Mt.17:1-9, by Jayne Krim
We think the miracle of the Transfiguration is something that could not happen to an ordinary person on a given day. However, all sacred stories are meant to connect us to our own lives, in its own way.
For me, the Transfiguration invites us to a rich prayer life. Jesus goes up to the mountain with Peter, James, and John to pray (Luke 9:28) and when he prays his countenance changed. Doesn’t that same thing happen to us when we pray? Our clothes might not turn dazzling white, but our spirits do. Prayer brings an inner change which reflects on our faces, our beings. I believe the Transfiguration is a direct effect of Jesus’ prayer.
The Transfiguration also invites and encourages us to listen “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt 17:5) This Lent, are you willing to listen to God? Do you have the desire? Even if we were to spend a little time daily listening to God, this would be a very good spiritual practice.
The Transfiguration is reminding us to accept the love of God in our lives, to believe that we are truly God’s beloved sons and daughters. When we begin to believe in God’s love for us, and do not doubt it, we experience the greatest freedom and joy.
What is operating in you that is directing the course of your life and clarifying the meaning of your mission?
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