Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sunday, February 24 ~ Third Sunday of Lent

John 4: 5-42

So he came to a city of Samar'ia, called Sy'char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar'ia?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But he said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has any one brought him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, `There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, `One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."


A simple act of outreach to one woman results in the conversion of an entire town. All it takes is Jesus taking the time to talk to one woman, one sinner, one outcast, and many others come to believe. Personally, I constantly struggle with the concept of evangelization, but yet, I firmly believe in the principle that one small act or word can make a huge difference.

In the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can only love one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus, said, ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.’ So you begin . . . I begin. I picked up one person - maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person I wouldn’t have picked up the others. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if we don’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you. Same thing in the church where you go. Just begin . . . one, one, one.”

These are remarkable words from a remarkable woman. I honestly believe that we are brought into this world to help one another, and helping one person is all it takes. I used to staff many retreats, and I was constantly reminded that all of the hard work and preparations are successful if we help to bring one person one small step closer to Christ. So it is in your life. Your simple acts of love and service help many, especially your husband and each one of your children.

I know that I have not met most of you reading this, but I know about you. I know that you are courageous, seeking truth and longing for holiness. I know that you are devoted to your families, praying daily for the best for them. And, I know that you love the Lord, because you read Scripture, hoping to know Him more.

Every little thing you do for another person brings them a step closer to Christ. They begin to truly believe in and follow the Word of God by your simple actions. They learn more about the teachings of Christ and the ministry of the Church by your noble example. Some choose to serve His people as a result of your outreach, and that is how the world is transformed.

Life can be rough. The demands we all face often overwhelm us. When I do not quite know if things will "be okay," you pray for me. When I cannot find a friend anywhere who has the time to sit down and talk, you are there, and Jesus is near. When the real world seems big and bad and ugly, you give me hope through a simple "Hello!" You are the spark which ignites so many to love our Lord and His people with sincerity and devotion. God works through you to change individual lives one moment at a time.

As Mother Teresa taught, it only takes one. I am loved, and I have been fed by the Body of Christ . . . by you. The ocean is one drop vaster. Don't stop reaching out to your family, your friends, your neighbors, even strangers. It only takes one.

Sunday, February 17, 2008 ~ Second Sunday of Lent

the flu hit our home; enough said...

Matthew 17: 1-9

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead." And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?" He replied, "Eli'jah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Eli'jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?"


We want Heaven NOW! We want the power to cast out demons, too! Sometimes I hear myself talking to Jesus and wonder why He puts up with my whining. I struggle to exorcise it from my kids on a daily basis, because it drives me up the wall! My latest retort - "My name is not 'Moooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!' It's Mommy." But, I digress.

This Gospel reading of the Transfiguration is amazing. Peter, James, and John head up the mountain with Jesus, thinking He's going to take a nap. Instead, they get to witness a glimpse of Heaven on Earth. Obviously, they want to stay and expect that is the plan. Let's build a couple of tents, Lord! This is WAY better than the tough life we live down in the valley! God's voice from Heaven humbles them, however, and reminds them of the gift they have in Jesus.

My favorite part, though, is the ending. The man insists the disciples could not heal his son, and the disciples are also puzzled. Jesus' response is to pity them and, of course, to heal the boy. Yes, if I had said, "How long am I to bear with you?", it would be with a breathy sigh, fed up with the lack of faith. But, I am certain that Christ's voice was gentle, calm, and loving, full of mercy and pity.

Do I whine too much? To co-workers? To my husband? To my children? Do I tolerate the whining of others? Am I grateful for the here and now or am I constantly unsatisfied? It is one thing to seek holiness and yet another to despair that it will never happen.

What glimpses of God's glory do I see in my daily life? When is the last time I pointed out His glory to my children? Do I recognize His Kingdom "under construction" here on Earth? Do I live in this world but not of this world? Do I struggle with being a part of the world and isolate myself too much?

Do I believe ALL things are possible with Christ? What are my doubts? How can I increase my faith? Do I hear Jesus' gentle voice, tolerating my weaknesses and loving me despite myself? When is the last time I sunk into His merciful embrace?