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Deepening Faith, Strengthening Hope
by Carol Fitsimmons, CSJ
“In their thirst for water the people grumbled.” Exodus 17:3
“The water I shall give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:4
The Lenten season is a time of renewal. This forty-day journey being observed by Christians throughout the world invites us to claim and deepen our identity as the beloved people of God. In praying with the story of Exodus I find a strong parallel with our present time.
There is a longing, a thirst in us for liberation from all the divisions we have recently seen in our country, in our world and maybe in our own hearts that enslave us like the Israelites under Pharaoh.
This year of the pandemic has been a crossing in the desert. And like the Israelites who had seen all the wondrous deeds of the Lord, we have seen divine intervention in the many generous acts of love and care, freely providing food, water and emotional support to the dear neighbor. This experience has heightened and enlivened our own hearts moving us out of complacency to compassion and hope.
This same Lord desires to relieve us of our sufferings.
Jesus is sent…be one with us…to be the mercy of God
and break down the barriers that divide us.
Paul tells us, ‘in the waters of baptism we are buried into the death and resurrection of Jesus.’ Romans 6:3-11
In the Gospel of John, we have a powerful story of Jesus encounter with a woman that is vivid and specific. Jesus is sitting by a well and a Samaritan woman comes. Now there was great hostility between the Jews and Samaritans.
The woman must have been astonished when Jesus asks her for a drink…something she is able to do. He engages her in conversation and offers her life-giving water that will forever remove her thirst and will turn into a ‘spring’. She is smart. She asks for the water even though she does not understand.
Jesus then leads her into a deeper knowing and owning of herself until she leaves her water jar and runs to tell the town. She is free of her burdens. Walking into the truth of her life she is free and even able to imagine Jesus as the Messiah and we have a glimmer that she is finding hope, and herself loveable.
In this account, Jesus shatters walls of division that are ethnic, religious and, also those of gender roles. Jesus offers a Gift…the gift of knowing her deepest identity is good.
For us that comes from knowing the Gift of God’s life in us. It is owning that we are loved to the core of our being. This begins with our baptism and it is an ongoing journey to eternal life.
The Son sends each of us…with his Spirit as Gift…to be his mercy for all that are thirsting.
“Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38
At the Easter Vigil when we renew our baptism promises we can open our hearts to receive the Gift more fully after walking the forty-day journey. Jesus gives the water that is the ability to respond…an ability to let go of walls that divide us, and let compassion, mercy and hope flow so that we can be a source of living water for others.
“If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37
- What is it that keeps you from knowing God’s love for you?
- What signs of God’s presence are in your day?
- For what are you thirsting?
Gracious Lord you alone know the truth of me.
Help me to meet you in that truth.
Enable me to look at myself and others with your mercy.
“The Deer’s Cry” by Shaun Davey & Rita Connolly
Composed by Shaun Davey, with Rita Connolly on vocals and The City of Glasgow Chorus and Orchestra, from the collection The Pilgrim, Tara Music, www.taramusic.com.