Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 15, 2020
When Christ traveled north to Galilee to begin his ministry, he intentionally took the route that passed through Samaria, a route most Jews avoided. Samaritans were despised by Israelite Jews. When the Assyrians invaded several centuries earlier, they married with Israelites, creating this mixed Samaritan race. For seven hundred years Samaria was occupied by a foreign ruler that implemented the worship of foreign gods or baals. The Samaritans thus accepted the first five books of the Torah, but they rejected the historical books and believed the true temple was located on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem.
By going through this land and acknowledging the Samaritans (and remember our Lord's other acknowledgment in the parable of the Good Samaritan) Jesus was delivering an important homily. The stones of the temple are not what are important. The temple will be not in one location, but in the hearts and souls (potentially) of all men and women and in churches around the world. “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem."
It was noon and hot. Jesus was tired, so he rests at Jacob's well and has this encounter. Fulton Sheen makes the fine point that our Lord does some of his great work when he's tired. "When he seemed most unfit to do His Father's business," Sheen writes, "He did it most effectively."
We could also say Christ makes great converts and performs monumental feats when he is thirsty. Here he is thirsty and asks the woman for a drink. This leads to her conversion. Atop the cross Christ will also say, "I thirst." This will lead not just to the conversion of the centurion, but the redemption of the world. Amazing things can happen when we are thirsting, when we are hungering. Perhaps it's a good thing to be longing for more. Perhaps we do not always need to be full, to be satiated. Hence the beauty of Lent and fasting.
Water is symbolic of God's fidelity to his promise. This is why we have the excerpt from Exodus as our first reading. The Israelites in the desert accuse God of lying to them and murdering them. God, they think, has led them out to the desert to die. This is blasphemy. Only the devil lies and murders, not God. God, though, does not strike the blaspheming Israelites down, but produces water from a rock to save them.
The Samaritan woman has likewise blasphemed God, in a way. She has five different husbands, just as the Assyrians worshiped five different baals (and the word for 'husband' in Hebrew has its root in baal). Jesus will give her water to save her.
Can we drink the water the weary Christ offers us as he comes intentionally toward us?
Thank you for your support of the Empower Illinois tax credit school scholarship. Through the donations of Saint Juliana parishioners, we were able to provide 14 scholarships to students. We donated $26,000 and $38,600 in matching grants. We still have four students on the waiting list, so if you haven't donated, please consider giving these students a chance to attend our school. We are able to give year-round to this scholarship.
Once again, the parish mission this year will be March 25, 26, and 27 at Our Lady of Hope in Rosemont (we are doing a combined mission with neighboring parishes).
The SJS musical, Xanadu Jr. is this weekend. These are phenomenal productions, so consider attending and bringing your family. Thank you to all those in the Fine Arts program who have worked hard to make this possible.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Election Day on Tuesday!
Yours in Christ,