This weekend we begin what are known as the Scrutinies –sounds painful but it isn’t. It is a focused examination for our RCIA member. For three Sundays of Lent we will have different forms of scrutinies from our process, each will come before the parish at our 11:00 Mass and publicly be asked to examine their lives and grow deeper in journeying with the Lord. And all present will pray for them and their families. One prayer I will offer up for them is: “Free them from the slavery of sin, so that they may attain purity of heart and advance on the way to eternal life. Protect them in every danger, that they may serve you faithfully in peace and joy, and render your thanks for ever.”
That is a prayer for all of us not only our elect. The prayers are based on the Gospel of John for these Sundays. And the three major stories of Jesus on these Sundays speak of different forms of healing miracles. The stories are filled with rich deep symbolism and Things are not what they always seem to be. Like the Samaritan woman at the well for example. Did you listen closely to the elements of the story?
Desert: Have you ever been in the desert or drove through one? When is the worst time to be in the hot scorching sun? At mid-day when the sun is straight overhead. Yet in our Gospel passage, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at Noon. Why? She is ashamed of her lifestyle and knows that no one else from the village would come to the well at noon. In the blinding light of the desert noontime sun she hides her darkness—a reversal of images. The woman uses light to hide her shame.
However, in the same blinding sun, Jesus sees into her soul, into her life, and asks her to aid him. He turns everything around for her, all the bigotry and hatred between Jews and Samaritans, or Arabs, and the denial of women as fully human and worthy of encountering the Messiah, first hand and in person¾Jesus smashes those barriers. In the blinding light of the noontime sun Jesus cools the woman’s soul, refreshes her, and ministers her cleansing forgiveness, absolution, and freedom. Then what does he do? He converts her into his disciple, to evangelize in her village.
“Many Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the word of the woman who testified.”
A woman of sinful repute, living in hiding, shunned by her village, now walks upright in the light of the Lord proclaiming his arrival. Amazing! Things are not always what they seem to be.
Jesus enters our lives in the same way, day after day, year after year. He seeks us out, those dark parts within us, and so often we continue to hide those parts, stubbornly holding onto them.
The Samaritan woman was stopped in her routine of hiding in the light, of living in sin, and Jesus causes her to look at why she is doing what she is doing — to take a time out and look at the life she was living… And Jesus does the same to us. Calls us to take a time out and connect our actions to our lives.
Another major symbol of contrast—the desert with Life Giving Water. Jesus quenches the Samaritan’s thirst with himself—she leaves her water jar to witness for him. Our thirst is quenched by the Lord as he gives his life in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. But to prepare for that renewed life in him, just like the woman at the well, we need to admit our wrong doing, seek his absolution and enter his peace filled reconciling love.
Lent is a season we are given yet another chance, a time to reconnect our lives in Christ, and be refreshed through the cleansing he offers us. He thirsts for us to turn over our dark parts to his light, to connect to him. Our place at the well with Christ is Confession-Penance-Reconciliation. Every Saturday morning at 9AM we begin with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament along with Confession. Every Saturday afternoon at 3:45 we offer Confession. OR you can call for an appointment.
Take to Him those darker areas that need His healing light. All he asks in return is that we walk in his light, see one another as he sees us. Then we too, like the Samaritan woman can witness his presence, offer his forgiveness to others and proclaim with our lives, that he really is the Savior of the world.
Blessed Healing, Fr Gordon