What’s your word for today which captures the meaning of the Gospel for you?? And then see if we are anywhere close when I get around to telling you my word for the day. . .
Once upon a time, in one of my former parishes, which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent. . . There was a couple that I just did not see eye to eye with.
Politically, we were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Theologically, we were totally different.
Socially, we would never move in the same circles.
As far as I knew, we had no common interests whatsoever – except our faith.
But, lo and behold, one day - an invitation for dinner was extended by them – and I thought – why not?
I had no idea how we were going to keep a conversation going through the evening. And I thought I would be miserable – and kicking myself for being so crazy as to accept this invitation. But at the time, I was willing to try.
And at the end of that evening we spent together – I was actually surprised that I had somewhat of a pleasant time!
Oh, I knew better than to think we would now be close friends – or even that I would ever want to repeat the experience – but at least we got to know each other better – I would like to think we understood each other a little more –
And each of us could have a little less animosity – and a little more respect for each other.
At the end of the evening – I still knew Jesus’ command of loving even your enemies was a tough nut to crack — but I at least knew for sure it’s possible to dislike your enemies a little less – without too much difficulty.
And this all came about because of a conversation – an interaction – an engagement.
In our Gospel today – Jesus had all the reasons in the world not to converse with this woman at the well – and she had just as many reasons not to talk to him either.
Morally – they were certainly at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Socially – well, in their patriarchal society – a man would never speak to a woman – especially when they were alone in a public place.
They were certainly pushing the boundaries!
Religiously – Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan – and there was mutual animosity between these two groups which went back 100s of years – for on their release from the Babylonian Captivity – the Jews rebuilt the holy Temple in Jerusalem without inviting the Samaritans to help –
and so not feeling welcome in Jerusalem – the Samaritans built their own places of worship – and were shunned ever since.
So a woman who comes to perform an ordinary task on an ordinary day – soon finds herself in an extraordinary conversation – one which would change her life.
For Jesus wants something more than water. Jesus wants this woman’s faith. So he probes and questions, demonstrating his prophetic knowledge of her life and his willingness to satisfy the deepest thirst in her heart.
Jesus offers her LIVING WATER. He is that water, the one who can so fill those who receive him – that they will never be thirsty, lifeless, or aimless again. Jesus wants her to drink him in.
And she does – and soon – she acts just like a disciple – carrying the good news of what happened to her to others – and inviting them to come and see this man called Jesus.
An ordinary task, on an ordinary day – leads to an extraordinary conversation which changed more than just two people’s lives — all because two people were willing to let their guard down – and have a conversation – an interaction – and engagement. . .
And that is my word for the week: ENGAGEMENT– the act of entering into conversation with another.
And this is the picture.
[Young couple sitting on a railroad tracks facing each other - talking]
So who do you most need to have a conversation with this Lent?
Who are you at opposite ends of the political /religious/ social /economic spectrum with –
Who do you continue to judge or avoid – that if you just let your guard down and have a conversation / an interaction / an engagement with — you might come to understand each other a little more – and each of you could have a little less animosity – and a little more respect for each other??
This person could be someone in your family, someone you work with, someone in the neighborhood, someone you meet on the street or in the grocery store – maybe even someone at Church . . .
Who do you most need to have an engagement with – a conversation with – this Lent?
Then make the call. Have the conversation. Engage one another in dialogue – and make the world just a little less hostile and a little more pleasant place. . .
Darren Poke writes a blog called “Better Life Coaching” which I follow. Here’s Darren’s take on this. He writes:
The world seems very angry at the moment.
People are angry at each other.
They’re angry and suspicious, fearful and distrusting.
Let’s change that. Let’s build bridges and not walls.
Let’s engage with those who are different from us. Let’s forgive those who have hurt us.
Let’s take an interest in the perspective of others. Let’s laugh with others — not at them.
Let’s soften our tone with those who disagree with us. Let’s open our arms to those who have been hurt.
Let’s encourage those who have lost hope.
Let’s change the world and make it a nicer place for everyone. . . one conversation at a time.
I think Jesus would agree.
Moments in time...