A Nativity Scene

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.

“And she laid him in manger … ” Luke 2:7.

Think about these few simple words, about the nature of Christ, and we’ll try to grasp just a little of what this means. Or can mean.

How did the Babe react to being placed in a manger? We aren’t told, but if we know something of Jesus’ nature, from study or personal experience or from whatever inner or outer source, we can imagine. I think, and this is just my thought, that he was peaceful, calm. The Creator of Heaven and earth, Author of Life, THE Perfect Being deserving of … He’s beyond deserving isn’t he? As though he lacks something and needs someone to supply him with fill-in-the-blank because he’s worthy. He is by nature eternally worthy whether we ever know it or not, and we can’t really give him anything he doesn’t already have. With the exception of a childlike heart, our heart, given by us to him. And here he is placed in a rough hewn box of sorts. But I see him reacting peacefully. Why shouldn’t he? What, really, could ever threaten him? Would he lose his self confidence because he was being treated as less than what he was? Of course not. That sort of reaction would more likely pertain to us, but not to him.

We are told that we must become like little children in order to enter into Heaven. We need to be innocent, joyful, trusting. Which means that we set the wrong kinds of ego and fear aside along with hardheartedness. And we can. With his help. When we’re laid in a manger of rough wood, when life becomes uncomfortable, we remain calm. Because we know he’s there in that “manger” with us. After all, is there any place, any set of circumstances when and where he isn’t with us?

“And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Accepting crosses is a part of our existence as followers of Christ. It takes a real Christan to carry a cross. And it takes a child-like heart to be content with rough hewn mangers.

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The Cup of Sugar

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.

“And she cried out, ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’ ” Luke 1:42.

Elizabeth sees Mary coming up the walk, runs out to greet her, and bubbles over joyfully with the above statement. Inspired by the Holy Spirit of course.

I remember being told about a monk, a Benedictine, and this is a factual story, who had been given the task of offering hospitality to any guests that might arrive at the monastery. But he had other things to do as well. As he was knee deep in alligators given all these other duties he wasn’t all that geared up for guests. Of course someone showed up. He heard the door and knew he had to stop what he was doing and go take care of this person. In exasperation he said: “!#@%! Now I’ve got to go do hospitality!” 🙂 Monks are human too.

With hospitality, Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary, and being human in mind …

Have you ever seen someone, maybe a next door neighbor, walking towards your door and muttered, “Oh great. What do they want now?” Hey, you’re knee deep in alligators and don’t have the time, or inclination, to dole out a cup of sugar. You’ve got enough to do all ready and now you have to stop and take care of someones needs. Just peachy, ain’t it?

When Elizabeth saw Mary coming down the path she had no way of knowing Mary was there to help her in her time of need. It could’ve been a logical assumption on Elizabeth’s part that Mary was there because she needed something from Elizabeth. But rather than say something like “Ratz! Now what?” Elizabeth went to meet Mary and was, lets just say, hospitable.

OK, whats the difference between Elizabeth and our monk? (We’ll leave ourselves alone and out of this for now. If we see ourselves in one example or the other, well, it’ll be food for thought on the individual level.) And the answer is really simple. When Elizabeth spoke she did so under the influence of the Holy Spirit. God had control because Elizabeth faithfully gave herself over to God. Now when the monk spoke what influence was he under?

Back to that neighbor walking up our walk. We see them and have an immediate reaction within ourselves. And …

“And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:2, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Abraham saw three strangers coming towards his tent and ran out to implore them to eat and rest at his camp. When the meal was ready he even served them himself. The above verse references his actions. You know, honestly, I’ve never seen anybody walk by my place and gone running up to them saying, “Here, let me give you a cup of sugar!” But, metaphorically speaking, that’s just what Elizabet did, isn’t it? Most of us can probably identify, if we’re honest about it, with the monk. The question is now: “What need’s to change so that I give hospitality to neighbors and strangers alike? What cuts me off from that right attitude?” Because whatever gets in our way in serving others also gets in the way of our relationship with God.

 

Praying in the right direction …

A Rosary Meditation: The First Sorrowful Mystery, The Agony in the Garden.

“And going forward a little, he fell on the ground, and began to pray.” Mark 14:35.

You know, if there was ever a human being who knew what he was doing it was Jesus. Being perfect, and he is, everything about him gives us an example to follow. Everything.

Many of the worlds religions have much in common. Despite time, geography, and culture people are people. Everyone, for example, laughs and cries. We may laugh or cry about different things but we still laugh and cry. Various things seem to be across the board. And that’s because they are. The worlds monotheistic religions for example. Take Judaism and Islam. If you’re a practicing Jew you turn towards Jerusalem when you pray. If you’re Muslim you face in the direction of Mecca. There are reasons for this. Respect, longing, simple devotion, and more. In Catholicism? Its a little different. If we pray rightly we face in a certain direction as well. Its just not a direction you’ll find laid out by Rand-Mcnally.

Look at what Jesus did. And remember that he’s the example. ” … going forward a little … ” This is a Sorrowful Mystery. Have you ever prayed while consumed with sorrow? Certainly, we all have. When we pray, sorrowfully or otherwise, in what direction do we turn? In what direction did Jesus turn? ” … and GOING FORWARD … ” And this is precisely what we need to do when we pray.

When we pray we need to have a forward view, one of hope and not despair. Jesus prayed in sorrow but I can’t believe he prayed without hope, faith, and confidence. He didn’t look behind, at the past, at the unbelieving crowds. And certainly he saw what was coming. He knew he was about to be crucified and prayed that he might be spared this cup of suffering. But if he saw his crucifixion coming don’t you think he saw Easter morning as well? And we need to learn this lesson in prayer. Things are what they are, and sometimes they’re just bad period. But that doesn’t mean God’s going to leave them that way. Otherwise why bother praying? And there’s the hope, the forward view.

Consider also how far forward Jesus went. ” … and going forward A LITTLE … ” Sometimes baby steps forward are all we can stand. The length of the stride isn’t whats important here. Again, its the direction. Look forward with hope, not backwards with despair or the wrong kind of longing.

“Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Which direction was Lot’s wife looking in after she had been told to look straight ahead? What happened to her? And as we move from this world to the next, and that’s what we’re doing with every breath we take, just like Lot’s wife was moving away from Sodom and Gomorrah to a place of refuge, which way do we look?

Carry the Message

A Rosary Meditation: The First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation.

“When she heard him … ” Luke 1:29a.

The Angel Gabriel carried a message, didn’t he? The angel announced Christ to Mary. ( “You will have a child … ” ) Latter Elizabeth did the same. ( ” …  mother of my Lord … ” ) John the Baptizer announced Christ as well. ( “Behold the Lamb of God!” ) And then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. ( ” Come see the man who told me everything I ever did. Couldn’t he be the Christ?” ) The people that Jesus healed, even when he told them to be quite about what had happened to them, announced him to others. The Twelve Apostles announced him, the people they converted announced him, the Church he founded with Peter as its head continues announcing him to this very day. And all of these, from Mary to the woman at the well and everybody else, have something in common.

Its not everyone that gets the privilege of announcing Jesus to others. There is one, and only one, class of people who get to do the announcing. Oh, God uses anybody he pleases, this is true. As an example, even Lucifer announces Christ. He does his announcing via the hatred he has for God and His children. When Satan vents his anger it gets to be pretty obvious who Jesus is. Otherwise why go to all that trouble if Jesus only, well, something other than the Messiah? So in a way all things announce Christ. But only one class of people announces him with an invitation attached. John said “Behold!” The Samaritan woman said “Come see!” was

The people doing the announcing with the invitation included are the people who have encountered Christ and accepted the invitation themselves. And when others hear the Good News and respond to it, accepting the invitation, there’s one sure way to recognize them. They start announcing.

“Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … If we want what Jesus offers in the above verse, if we want him to announce us to his Father, we need to do some announcing ourselves. There are a lot of ways to do this. Support missioners, bankroll good seminaries, pray, volunteer, and the list goes on. But there is one BEST way. Its something else those folks I mentioned above have in common. After they accepted the announcement, accepted the invitation, accepted Jesus, they all did one thing by the grace of God, each person in the way God gave them. They changed. And people saw the change. There are lots of ways to announce Jesus to others, but a good example? Works wonders.

 

Death holds no terror

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Glorious Mystery, The Assumption.

“For he has so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men.” Judith 13:25.

Sometimes I think its best to let saints speak. So … From St. Alphonsus de Liguori …

“And now death came; not indeed clothed in mourning and grief, as it does to others, but adorned with light and gladness. But what do we say? Why speak of death? Let us rather say that divine love came, and cut the thread of that noble life. And as a light, before going out, gives a last and brighter flash than ever, so did this beautiful creature, on hearing her Son’s invitation to follow him, wrapped in the flames of love, and in the midst of her loving sighs, give a last sigh of still more ardent love, and breathing forth her soul, expired. Thus was that great soul, that beautiful dove of the Lord, loosened from the bands of this life; thus did she enter into the glory of the blessed, where she is now seated, and will be seated, Queen of Paradise, for all eternity.” Glories, p. 420.

Death isn’t always a terror. For the followers of Christ its a homecoming. That’s no terror. Its a release from the bondage of the world and a prelude to our resurrection. For Mary it all happened at once. I suppose the terror of death stems from a knowledge of sin and its rewards. There was nothing like this in death for Mary. For Mary death meant only to follow her son. She loved him, loves him, enough to want to follow him in all things. This would include death. It would also include her Assumption. He had ascended, under his own power. Remember that her only desire was to follow him. Mary couldn’t ascend into Heaven on her own, but being perfect her love reached Heaven and that left God with what choice? Mary, being sinless, could only be gathered up by God and taken to a Realm where no sin enters, neither can it reign. She couldn’t be left here, her body left to suffer the decay that’s only one result of sin and death. To ever think that there was no such thing as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is like saying God is not love. And we know better.

“In every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.” Judith 13:31.

Just a thought … “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.” Pope Pius XII. Consider what a mother we have! So many go, sadly, to a mothers grave, leaving flowers on a birthday or Mothers Day. With Mary as our mother we’ll never be able to do that. There is no grave, there never will be. There is a knowledge that mother has gone on ahead of us. She waits there for us with Him. And death ought never hold a terror for the Christian.

 

Denial

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, The Carrying of the Cross.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself.” Luke 9:23.

Denial. It comes in various packages. There’s the denial that refuses to honestly admit the obvious. The Pharisees practiced this sort of denial when confronted by the Messiah. He didn’t fit their preconceived mold. And then there was Peter’s denial. His denial consisted of a lie. Better to play it safe. I’m sure there are others, different types, reasons, and excuses. But its still denial.

Then there’s the denial that Jesus asks for here. Its the only form of denial that counts in a positive way. Self denial. Its like taking up a cross and following Christ. Willingly. And self denial is a cross. It means by passing certain things, giving up others, and tempering some. It means giving up my will and choosing his instead.

Its not easy. Its hard. To set the flesh and the mind aside. Actually, its more than just hard, its impossible for us to do alone and on our own. But we’re not alone. We’re told that we can do all things through him who strengthens us. That matters settled. But we aren’t settled, are we? We give ourselves to him, but somewhere deep inside something is held back. Or we give ourselves to him and then, maybe just a minute or two latter, take it all back.

There’s more to carrying a cross than just picking it up and walking. If that’s all there was to it anyone could do it. But when Jesus carried his cross what sort of example did he give us? He fell, didn’t he? And he got up again. More than once. And he accepted help. So we’ll give him our life and take it back, we’ll fall. A real Christian falls and gets up again. And again, and again. As many times as it takes to reach that perfection God has in store for us. You’ll remember that we’re told Jesus fell three times. I’ve wondered if he fell more than three times and its just that we’re only told about the three. I don’t know. I just know he’s our example.

“For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again: but the wicked shall fall down into evil.” Proverbs 24:16.

Just a thought … In the Old Testament the number 7 denotes perfection. Like in the above verse. Now that doesn’t always mean flawless. I’ve said before that you can set a coffee cup down on a completed jigsaw puzzle and leave a ring, a coffee stain. Its no longer flawless, but its still perfect in the sense that its complete. Don’t beat yourself up over falling. Just get up. As many times as it takes. And don’t play an April Fools prank on yourself, don’t practice that “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” form of denial, like you can do it all by yourself. What do you think the rest of us are here for?

Believing is Seeing

Today’s Gospel Reading (short version) is John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38.

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “ but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

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     You know, we’re all born blind. Our blindness stems from original sin. But as hopeless as the situation may seem, being born into darkness, its not hopeless at all. And we needn’t worry about the means God uses to restore our sight, to bring us to conversion. The man we read of here was born blind. There were doctors who were knowledgeable then just as there are now. There was nothing they could do for him. None of their elixirs or potions would help. There are things modern medicine can’t deal with either. The common cold is a good example. But what did Jesus do?
     “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.”
     Jesus didn’t use any of the things a doctor would have. He didn’t use anything the world would have turned to. He used mud made with spit. And he does things like this all the time. The simple element of water becomes a vehicle of grace in baptism, simple oil brings comfort, and perhaps healing if its Gods will, during the anointing of the sick. Everyday bread and wine are changed by a miracle into God Himself. And mud gives sight to one born blind.
     We usually complicate things. If it had been me trying to help the blind man see I’d have looked for all sorts of herbs and minerals and would’ve put him on a regimen of diet and some sort of exercise. I’d have complicated things. And the blind man? He’d still be blind.
     Jesus never complicates things. He always keeps things simple. And then the world, like the Pharisees here, debate and argue about how such a thing could happen. How was it that this man, blind from birth, now sees? Jesus is still using simple things to open eyes, to bring about conversion. Something as seemingly insignificant as a string of beads. And the world wonders, people around us argue and debate. How could it be that someone like this one, who lived such a life of depravity, now be so different, so … Changed? When a persons eyes are open their viewpoint changes.
     When people begin to see after having been blind they change. Because they change the world, the folks around them, casts them out. People with real sight don’t fit in with the crowd that’s stumbling around in the dark, blindly. So they get cast out. And that’s a good thing. When they threw the man who could now see out who was it that immediately came looking for him?
     When we receive our sight and the world wonders, as we experience conversion, the ongoing process of turning to and drawing nearer to God, and the world sees the difference and shoves us aside because we don’t fit in anymore don’t worry about being cast out. Because when we’re cast out He takes us in. And that’s a sight to behold.

 

Leading away …

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Sorrowful Mystery, The Crowning with Thorns.

“Now the soldiers led him away … ” Mark 15:16a.

I’ve wondered, in the past, what it must’ve felt like to be Jewish in Nazi Germany. “Branded” with a yellow star, packed into railroad cars, watching loved ones going you didn’t know where while you yourself were going in the opposite direction. Did the people being led away feel fear, disgust, hatred? All of these being led away by soldiers. Or how it felt to walk the Trail of Tears, going to a territory that was altogether foreign, watching as some of the people you were closest to died on the journey, no proper burials, no ceremony to mourn their passing, buried in forgotten graves. Did the brave warriors feel fear? Did they feel hatred? How did the old women and the young children feel? What did they feel while being led away by soldiers?

Jesus was led away by soldiers. They weren’t kind or understanding. They mocked him, placing the crown of thorns on his head. A fine jest. Did any one of them feel the slightest twinge of pity or guilt? Did the Nazi soldier feel anything? Was there any remorse at all? Did any of the U.S. Cavalry soldiers consider what it was they were doing to fellow human beings? Or was it just a job, the people only “things” less than human to be disposed of? Or was it a fine jest?

We’ve all heard people say things like, “No one gets out of this world alive”. That’s true. I think its just as true that no one gets out of this world without being crowned with thorns one way or another. At some point we are all led away by soldiers. The “soldiers” may take on a different guise, but the leading remains the same. And it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a Christian or not.

(And before someone takes it wrong and starts thinking I’m down on the military, I’m not. This is an allegory.)

So what does matter? If we’re Christian it matters whether or not we accept the crown of thorns we receive for love of Christ. Receiving a crown such as this outside the love of God no doubt counts, and it counts in a multitude of ways. But does it count for eternity? There’s the difference. And that difference does matter.

Pity and pray for the “soldiers” who do the leading. (Husbands leading wives astray, corporations that lead consumers “away” with less than healthy commodities, fellow high school student who … and etc.) “Just following orders, that’s all.” Not putting authority in its proper place, as in God and His commandments coming first with the will of men coming second at best, the “soldiers” that do the leading are being led by one crueler than they could ever be. When a Christian is led we’re led like lambs to the slaughter and regardless the crown we receive from men we receive a greater from Him. But the ones following orders, and it doesn’t matter who it is giving them, are the ones that receive a reward that’s dreadful.

“The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, … ” Revelation 4:10, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … “No one gets out of this world alive.” That’s true. As far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough because if you leave this life with the Life of Christ in you then you DO get out of this world alive. And you’ve a crown waiting.

A Mother’s Touch

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.

“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary … ” Luke 1:41a.

Mary going to Elizabeth, knowing she needs help during and after her pregnancy. Elizabeth, probably having seen Mary coming down the path, goes out to meet her. Its a very touching scene. Two mothers, both in need. Elizabeth in need of help because of her advanced age and the bearing of her first born. Mary in need of acceptance and understanding, of faith and trust, because she’ll soon be showing and everyone will know she’s pregnant during her engagement and prior to her marriage.

Both of these women were putting someone else first. At first glance you might think that Mary was putting Elizabeth first, helping her when she herself was going to need so much help. And that Elizabeth, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to Mary’s position as mother of the Messiah, was putting Mary first because of Mary’s importance. And I think that all of this is true to an extent. Of course there’s a lot more to it all but these things are a part of the whole. But when it comes to putting someone else first there was much more to it.

They were putting one another first but more importantly they were both putting God first. And not just in certain areas of their lives, holding back others. There were no “compartments” in their living. No “This parts mine and this parts God’s”. They each gave God their all, which is one of the reasons they were both given such important positions. The mother of the forerunner of the Messiah and the mother of Messiah. I can’t think of two more important women in the history of the world. And they both put themselves after God and after others. Humility, service, love, self-sacrificing living. All for God.

These two righteous mothers set us a joyous example. Its touching. And it should be. It should be touching our hearts, yours and mine, that these two women, arguably the two most important women of all time, put God first, others (us) second, and themselves third. A mother’s touch can be a marvelous thing.

4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil: 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth: 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Douay-Rheims. 

Just a thought … The above scripture passage sounds like a good description of Mary and Elizabeth, doesn’t it? It reminds me of them. How much does it remind me of me, or you of you?

The Invitation

The Gospel Reading for today (short version), the third Sunday of Lent, is John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42.

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.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who 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 do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

“I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people 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 the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

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Its a different sort of scene here, isn’t it? Jesus, a Jew, with a Samaritan woman. It goes against the cultural grain. This sort of thing just wasn’t done. It wasn’t socially acceptable. The mindset of the Jews and Samaritans, either group the one towards the other, reminds me of the old Jim Crow laws. Only in this instance there wasn’t even the pretext of “separate but equal”. And this makes what happens here all the more striking.

Do you think that what Jesus really wanted was water? Or was asking for water a way of extending an invitation to the Samaritan? Because if she had known who it was that was speaking to her she’d be asking him for water. He lets her know that immediately. So whats going on here doesn’t have anything to do with her giving Jesus water. This is his way of extending an invitation to her, letting her know, giving her the opportunity to ask him. And he doesn’t make the offer in ignorance. He knows all about her and, in the longer reading, lets her know that for him her life is an open book. Despite this he still makes his offer, his invitation. And it stands. He doesn’t retract it at any point or for any reason. He has living water to give and the chance is hers.

There are a lot of people in this world who are forced onto social “reservations” just as many Native Americans were forced on literal reservations. There are a great many people in this world who are told, one way or another, that they are “separate but equal”, with the emphasis on the word separate. Every culture has its untouchables, the outcasts, those willfully ostracized. The world is still made up of Jews and Samaritans. And there are all sorts of reasons for it. Some of these reasons can even be made to sound plausible. None of these reasons are ever good, and never will they be Godly. In heaven? Everybody drinks from only one water fountain.

Think about the people who, for whatever reason, are made to live apart. Apart from “acceptable” society. Maybe its religion, perhaps its skin color, it can be something as simple as their speaking another language. But they’re Samaritans as opposed to Jews, or vice versa. They’re different, and lacking in some respect. And because of this no one would ever think to ask them for a drink of water. Neither would they think of extending to them an invitation of any kind.

Jesus saw things, he saw the woman at the well, differently. For him there were no outcasts, none that were unclean. There were, there are, only lost sheep needing to be found. There were, there are, only people dieing of thirst who don’t even know they’re dieing. There were, there are, only people needing an invitation.

Jesus spent two days with the people of that Samaritan village. He ate with them, he drank with them, he talked with them, he went into their homes. And during all of this his only goal was to extend to each one of them an invitation. Today? He has you and me, us, to work through. This means that we’re the ones extending the invitation now. Do we exclude the Samaritans, or do we go into all the world? Jesus set the example. Its our choice whether or not we follow it. Its our choice whether or not we follow him. Its our choice whether or not we extend the invitation.

Having said all of the above I’ve made my point. And now I have one more point to make. Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ.” A good example is one to be followed. (A good reason to daily read The Lives of the Saints.) Today we are blessed. We are being given a marvelous example to follow, a good Catholic example. God has blessed us with Papa Francis, who I’ve started to think of as the Pope of the Annunciation. Because that’s what he’s doing. He’s announcing Christ to the world in a very personal way. He’s extending the invitation. Pray for the Holy Father.