Despite our sinfulness, Jesus thirsts for us

| Deacon Chris Weber | March 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Chances are, we’re all familiar with this weekend’s Gospel. But did you ever notice that there’s not just one, but two thirsty people at the well?

John gives us plenty of clues about the Samaritan woman. He points out that she’s there by herself, in the middle of the day when the sun was at its hottest. The rest of the village women would have been there earlier that morning, before the sun had a chance to make the walk unbearable. For them, the well was a lot like the office water cooler — it was the best place to hear the day’s gossip.

The Samaritan woman is there at noon because she’s the topic of the day’s gossip. She goes at noon because she expects to have the place to herself. It’s easier for her to deal with the heat of the noonday sun than the sideways glances and outright judgment she would have gotten from the women who were there earlier in the day. They know all about her — or at least they think they do. They know all about husbands one through five. But what they don’t know is what it’s like for a woman to be alone the way she has been alone. What they don’t know is what it’s like to want so badly to find love, only to be rejected over and again. Sure, she’s there because she needs the water. But she’s there at the hottest part of the day because she just wants to be left alone. She just wants to find some peace.

Jesus, on the other hand — how can he be thirsty? How is it that a man can turn water into wine, but yet not be able to quench his own thirst without asking a woman for help with a bucket?

Perhaps it’s because his thirst has less to do with the water and more to do with the woman at the well. When Jesus sees her, he sees her in her entirety. He sees her for who she really is. He sees her past. He sees all the mistakes she’s made. He sees the situation she’s gotten herself into now. He sees her sinfulness, her pride, her shame. And he loves her.

When he looks at her, he sees a beloved child of God. He sees a woman in pain, a woman in need, who has been trying to fill the emptiness in her heart with all the wrong things. He understands her thirst better than she understands it, and despite her sinfulness, he thirsts for her.

How amazing is it that God — the creator of heaven and earth, the all-powerful, perfect in every way — can be moved to thirst for her, and for you, and for me?

This weekend, parishes across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will celebrate the first of three scrutinies with catechumens seeking to enter the Church at Easter. The scrutinies are liturgical rites that mark the period of final preparation for the Easter sacraments. For catechumens, the scrutinies are meant to uncover and to heal all that is weak, defective or sinful in their hearts; and to strengthen all that is upright, strong and good in them. For the rest of us, the scrutinies are an opportunity to take a look at our lives and to recognize those parts of ourselves that we have yet to fully give to the Lord.

As the scrutiny begins, the catechumens will be invited to kneel at the foot of the altar and pray for the grace to take an honest look at themselves, to acknowledge their own brokenness and to ask the Lord to heal those parts of themselves that still need to be converted. This can be an intimidating idea. But more than looking at themselves, the scrutinies are about allowing Jesus to look at us. As we saw in the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t see us the way we see ourselves. Jesus sees beyond our weakness and our sins to the heart of who we are — of who he calls us to be.

May we all have the grace this week to allow ourselves to be truly seen, and to strive to be the people our Lord is calling us to be.

Deacon Weber is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. His teaching parishes are St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater, and his home parish is Sts. Mary and Mathias in Muscatine, Iowa.

Sunday, March 19
Third Sunday of Lent


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Category: Sunday Scriptures