Third Sunday of Lent
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Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” …The woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
Christ is turning my life upside down, which means right-side up.
Is anyone to small for God? As a priest, it irritates me to no end how some people pray for others but not for themselves! Really? Who doesn’t need God’s blessings? Most often the guilty ones are moms and grandmothers. “I just ask God to look after my children and grandchildren. I don’t ask Him for anything else.” Give me a break!
Not too long ago, I overheard someone tell their friend they were praying to God to get into the college of their first choice. The friend said in reply, “Why are you bothering the Lord with that? Don’t you know He has more important things to do?” Wow! I couldn’t believe it. Come on! Is God really too busy with bigger things? Does He not care about our problems? Are we too little for him? Do our problems have to be big to warrant his attention?
The Jews often tested the Lord by saying: “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” (Ex. 17:7).
Jesus passed the test. In fact, He spent a great deal of quality time with little people who had more or less little problems. Surprise! Who would have thought? The Jews imagined a God who would have spent all his time with emperors and kings, not common folks and fishermen.
A little woman with a little problem. The Samaritan woman wasn’t a queen or a princess. She wasn’t even a Jew. She was a nobody: a reject, a loser, a lost cause. She was helpless (cf. Rom. 5:5-8). At noon she went to the well to fetch some water. Noon? This fact speaks volumes. It means she was trying to avoid people, for nobody in their right mind went to a well at noon. They either went early in the morning or late at night, when the temperature was cooler. So why was she their? To avoid embarrassment and punishment. But it was precisely at that hour she encountered the Lord.
The Lord rejected cultural habits, stereotypes and prejudices. By speaking to her, he broke three rules: (1) never speak to a woman in public; (2) never speak to a Samaritan; (3) never use (touch) something used (touched) by a sinner.
She was helpless. Jesus knew everything about this woman and still…He spoke to her. Why? Because He is a hopeless romantic. He follows His heart.
Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs or prejudices. That’s wrong. But what do we do when they fit the stereotype? What do we think if they are awful people? What do we do then?
I know what the Lord does. He reaches out to them.
A week ago I read the following: “You can’t hang around negative people and expect to live a positive life.” I liked it. I even tweeted it.
But today I disagree with it. The Lord hung around a lot of negative people and lived a very positive life.
Titus Brandsma, a Dominican priest, hung around a lot of Nazis while he was imprisoned in a concentration camp. He never gave in to negativity, bitterness or anger. This, of course, got the Nazis mad at him. So when they threw him into solitary confinement, they were amazed at what he did. He wrote a poem, a love poem. This is what he wrote:
I see thy loving eyes on me;
love overflows my humble heart,
knowing what faithful friend thou art.
which I accept for love of thee.
Thy painful way I wish to go;
the only way to God I know.
although in pain, this light shines bright.
For here thou keepest to thy breast
my longing heart, to find there rest.
in cell where never sunlight shone.
Should no one ever speak to me,
this golden silence makes me free!
never wert thou, O Lord, so near.
Sweet Jesus, please abide with me;
my deepest peace I find in thee.
How did he do it? How did he stay so positive? It’s clear: Titus was a man of God. He was deeply rooted in Jesus Christ.
Titus Brandsma, pray for us!
Let’s accept the Lord’s challenge. Break with the stereotypes, customs and prejudices. SPEND TIME WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE!!!
You will live not only a positive life, but a life more like Jesus Christ.