Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Today’s gospel reading is a powerful reminder of God’s power in the least likely places. Here we see a Samaritan woman in the wrong place, at the wrong time, talking to the wrong person.
In Jesus’ day, good women came to the well to fetch water at dawn and again at dusk. They did not come at noon because that was the men’s time at the well. The fact that this woman came at noon tells us that she was not welcome in the woman’s circle. She must have done something to warrant such exclusion. When Jesus engaged her in conversation, she rightly wonders why a man, a Jewish man at that, would talk to her. Women were not supposed to talk with strange men without at least one male member of her family present. This rule applied both to Jewish women and to Samaritan women. So, she was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time and talking to the wrong person. Or was she?
John’s gospel community put this story into the gospel to capture our attention. We can think that we know who is good and who is bad. We even think we know how God responds to “bad people.” Yet, Jesus came to a Samaritan town to engage a woman who has been married five times, who is currently living with a man who is not her husband, and who even worships God incorrectly from the Jewish point of view. This is a woman who is intimately familiar with rejection and walks a solitary journey without the company of other women. What was Jesus thinking?!
I believe He was thinking that this was the right time in the woman’s life to encounter the God of all mercies, the God of all compassion, the God without damning judgment. Without condemning her, Jesus points out her failed marriages and inappropriate living situation. He enlightens her about what true worship is and that it comes from Judaism. And he offers her living water so that she will never thirst again. This woman is very thirsty, you know. She thirsts for acceptance. She thirsts for right relationships. She thirsts for healing. And she thirsts for a relationship with God. To all this, Jesus offers the living waters of life.
With this invitation, the woman hurries back into her village and announces to the people what Jesus has said and then offers her own conclusions in the form of a question. “Could this be the messiah?” She is already experiencing God’s unconditional love through Jesus, and now her town’s people go out to meet him and find out that He is who the woman said and they, too, come to faith.
As I reflected on the woman this past week, I couldn’t help but think of what is happening worldwide in the news. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are over, but the suffering they caused in people’s lives will continue for many years to come. The leaking radiation from the power plant is contaminating crops and ground water. Nations in the Middle East are experiencing uprisings and repression because of people’s desire for democracy. The US and European allies are bombing parts of Libya in an effort to stop repression and murder by an oppressive government. Need I go on? Our times are clearly “the wrong time” and people find themselves in the “wrong place.” Where is God when all this is happening?
John’s gospel suggests that we look for Jesus in these terrible times and places. He is there, offering life giving waters but do we have the eyes to see Him? Is Jesus counting on us to be the ones offering life to these suffering people and places?
As Christians, we believe that God is always active in our world and frequently acts through the kindness, generosity and activities of others. When we recognize this basic facet of our faith, then we need to ask ourselves whether or not our responses to Libya and Japan are life-giving. Can we look at our activities and see God’s compassion and healing working through us?
As much as we desire God to reach out to heal our wounds, God desires, even more than we do, to bring healing and life to us. Just as Jesus reached out to the woman’s whose life was a wreck and offered her life and healing, we are invited to be God’s love in action today. Today is not the “wrong place, wrong time.” No, this is definitely the right time and right place for us to be the healing presence of God for others. We are the right people to do this.
The Green Nun's Favorite Links
- Audubon Society
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
- E Magazine
- Earth Literacy Masters Program at SMW College
- Environment California
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Forest Ethics
- Friends of the Earth
- Global Climate Change Report
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Ocean Conservancy
- Pacific Environment
- Sierra Club
- The Nature Conservancy
- Union of Concerned Scientists
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