The Knights of Columbus: A Band of Brothers Going Into the Breach

Recently, as in the past couple of years, I have become more active with the Knights of Columbus at my parish (Council 13779). In the past month, I was appointed by the Grand Knight to be the council’s new Lecturer. The position speaks about the good of the order and encourages the men to live good lives and to practice their faith well on a variety of fronts, since we all need that encouragement from time to time.

I have also taken the initiative to get more involved with the Fourth Degree Assembly and will participate, as my schedule permits, with the Honor Guard. Last Thursday, for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, was the first time I wore the Knights of Columbus Regalia in nearly 10 years. I was incredibly blessed to be a part of it. It brought reverence and respect to an already solemn and sacred Mass (see pictures).

Processing into the Holy Thursday Mass – April 2017.

Me dressed in my regalia.

For the past twenty-four years, since I was nineteen years of age, I have been a member in the Knights of Columbus. It was my Dad who first joined the Knights, and then a few months later, I followed his example and joined. We were both charter members of Council 11007. During my junior year of college, I served as the Grand Knight and Membership Director at the University of San Francisco College Council.

While a Theology teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix in 2006, I was a part of the Fourth Degree Assembly that help found the Columbian Squires Circle #5000. It was a great honor being part of this endeavor! Currently, there are two young men studying in seminary for the Diocese of Phoenix that were members of Circle #5000.

There is so much that the Knights of Columbus engage in, it would be impossible to tell you everything in this one article, however, I want to briefly explain the 4 Principles of the Order – Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism.

In Charity, members of the Knights of Columbus are called to love their neighbors. Through our faith in God, and from our Baptismal call, we are to do the mission of Christ today by serving those in need. The Knights do this by having food drives, clothing drives, and giving food to local soup kitchens/food pantries. We are involved with the Special Olympics, Culture of Life Fund, Coats for Kids, Christian Refugee Relief, Food for Families, and many others. The Knights are one of the largest charitable organizations in the world today.

In Unity, we remain together in a brotherhood, a “band of brothers”, focusing on our roles and duties as Catholic men. We all struggle at different times in our lives, being united as this “band of brothers” gives us strength in numbers, because together we can accomplish more than being alone. We will disagree and have different opinions, but in this “band of brothers,” we will always have each other’s back. One of the great aspects of this is always asking for prayers and sending out messages when a brother or family member needs prayers (my council does this often).

In Fraternity, the Knights of Columbus provides assistance to the individual Knight as well as his family. The founding of the Knights, by Venerable Michael J. McGivney, found in its cornerstone this very element – to assist widows and children that were left struggling when the head of the family died, most often prematurely. The insurance program provides such assistance to this day. Through fraternity, the Knights serve millions of service hours a year in order to provide mercy and compassion to those most in need.

In Patriotism, we in the Knights are composed of many heritage backgrounds. We are Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, Filipinos, Poles, and Dominicans – all patriotic members of society. Our devotion for God and country allows us to profess the importance for religious freedoms for everyone. We serve our Veterans and seek to care for them when needed. Whatever sector we work in, public or private, as Catholic men, it is our duty to serve our countries and be counted among the best citizens possible.

In the end, the Knights of Columbus are a Band of Brothers Going Into the Breach!

Fourth Degree Assembly #3327 in regalia.

To conclude, here are the words of the great Polish Pope, St. John Paul II, from a letter to the Knights of Columbus he penned in 2002,

“For this reason [blossoming of the New Evangelization], I am most pleased that the Knights have continued to emphasize the need for profound spiritual renewal as the basis for the many and varied initiatives undertaken in support of the Church’s mission…As the Church in America seeks to move forward with sincere faith and confidence in the Lord’s sustaining grace, I urge all the Knights and their families to intensify their prayers for the authentic renewal of ecclesial life and the preservation of “that unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force” (Eph 4:3)…I express once more my gratitude for the Knights’ unfailing commitment to promoting vocations to the priesthood and the religious life…I pray that the Knights of Columbus, in full fidelity to the vision of Father Michael McGivney, will make every effort to draw young people to Jesus Christ and help them to understand that the true meaning and value of life is found in the generous gift of self to God and to others.”

If you are a Catholic male over the age of 18 (or know of one) and not in the Knights of Columbus, I would highly encourage you to join and get involved with the Knights of Columbus. Catholic men need to stand up and join the fight of this post-secular culture – the Knights of Columbus is a great way to engage in that battle (and yes, we carry swords!)

To join, ask any Knight of Columbus or contact your local parish Membership Chair.

Venerable Michael J. McGivney…Pray for Us.

Postscript: Please – any comments made should be done with charity and respect. Any comments attacking the author (me), the ceremonials of the Knights of Columbus, or each other will not be approved. Just because the ceremonials are not public, doesn’t mean they contradict Church teachings. I am sorry and apologize if someone in the Order offended you, hurt you, or caused you pain in the past. We should not put blame on the entire Order because of individual members. All comments are read by me and only approved with my discretion. Thank you. He is Risen! Happy Easter!

“Mondays with Mary” – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

In a recent homily at our monthly Latin Mass, my boss and Pastor, made reference to something he once heard – the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection instead of St. Mary Magdalene, as the Gospels proclaim. It was a footnote in his homily more than anything else. As he said it, I thought to myself that I had never heard of such an idea. I just know what the Gospels tell us.

After Mass, Father said he was looking towards me when he said it thinking that I would have heard of it somewhere in my studies and in my writings on Mary via this blog. I told him I had never heard of it and asked him where he read it, but he said he didn’t read it. He heard it somewhere, however, he couldn’t remember where it was specifically.

Not thinking about researching that idea that night, I just came home and wrote on something else. As I was trying to figure out what to write for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I was doing some online searches since I hoped to incorporate Mary with Easter. Not thinking I was going to find anything specific, I came upon an older Catholic website asking that same question I am asking today – Was the Blessed Virgin Mary the first to see the Resurrected Lord?

The website lead me to the Papal Audience of none other than – Pope St. John Paul II!!

Christ Appearing to His Mother – Rogier van der Weyden; Flemish, ca. 1445

Before you read this, I would say – go into it with an open heart. This is not definitive Church doctrine, but something we could reflect and contemplate in our hearts during this Easter Octave. Again, I don’t believe the Catholic Church doctrinally teaches on this point anywhere specifically, I would be interested to know the Orthodox view; but John Paul II gives us the opportunity here to use both our reason and our hearts to discover something about the relationship between Jesus and His Mother we may have never thought happened.

Instead of providing you with the entire text, here is the link to the Vatican website – General Audience – May 21, 1997 – Mary was witness to whole paschal mystery.

Pray about it this week and if questions come up – feel free to write me one in the comment section. I may or may not be able to answer them completely. If you are a Scripture buff, just keep in mind that the Gospels themselves do say that many other things happened which is not recorded in these writings. Could this interaction between Jesus and Mary be one of them? Remember also that the Gospels talk about Jesus appearing after his Resurrection to more than 500 individuals – if such a big event – why wasn’t it recorded either? Something for us to think about then.

Post Script: Just as I was about to publish this post, I found this article from May 2011 on The New Theological Movement.

I hope that you all had a blessed and joyful Easter Sunday and that your Easter Octave is as equally blessed.

HAPPY EASTER!

God raised up Jesus on the third day and granted that he be seen, not by all, but only by such witnesses as had been chosen beforehand by God — by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and to bear witness that he is the one set apart by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets testify, saying that everyone who believes in him has forgiveness of sins through his name. – Acts of the Apostles 10:40-43 (From today’s Morning Prayer Reading)

To all of my followers/readers through WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media and Catholic sites, I wish you a very Blessed and Joyful Easter Season! Thank you for your support and your prayers.

Christ has Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

The High Holy Days of Catholicism

Traditionally, in the Jewish faith, the high holy days are known as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). As one website put it, these are the heavy hitters of the Jewish year. Likewise, in the Catholic faith, the Holy Days of Obligation, along with every Sunday, because Sunday is enough, are the high holy days for Catholics. Although they may not be listed anywhere specifically, I would argue that the days in which we are about to enter can also be, and should be, considered high holy days as well.

Beginning tonight and concluding late Saturday night, the Catholic world starts what is known as The Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday (Mass of the Lord’s Supper), Good Friday (Celebration of the Lord’s Passion/Stations of the Cross) and Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil). The culmination of these three days brings us to the Sunday of all Sundays – Easter Sunday, the day where Our Lord Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.

If Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the heavy hitters of the Jewish faith, then we must say the Triduum and Easter Sunday are heavy hitters in the Catholic faith.

As I stated previously, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the day Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood while he celebrated the Passover Meal with the Apostles and established the new Passover (see Luke 22:14-23) begins the Sacred Triduum. The Institution of the Holy Eucharist is the major element we commemorate on this great day. From this day forward, we have Jesus present in the Church – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

During this Holy Mass, we also reenact the washing of the Apostles feet.  This action by Jesus in John 13 is an act of humility and points to the humiliation that he would receive on the cross. He is displaying heroism as the servant-king for the Apostles.  The washing of the Apostles feet mirrors the washing of Aaron and his son’s feet by Moses in the Book of Exodus, as they become the first of the Levitical Priests. If this is the case, foot-washing can been seen as a sign of priestly ordination. The apostles receive a “part” in Jesus where the Levitical priests received a “portion” of God alone.

On Good Friday, we commemorate the day our Lord willingly gave himself in the perfect sacrifice for our redemption. As the lambs were slaughtered in the Temple; so Jesus is slaughtered on the cross. Jesus becomes the New Lamb of God – he is both sacrifice and victim. As it has been since the most ancient days of the church, the Holy Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday. The only sacraments that are permitted on this day are Penance (Reconciliation) and Anointing of the Sick.  During the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, we hear the readings (Cycle A, B, C) from Isaiah 52:13—53:12, Psalm 31, Hebrews 4:14-16 5:7-9 and the Gospel of St. John 18:1—19:42.

After a short homily or time in prayer, the Liturgy of the Word ends with “The Solemn Intercessions” which are For the Holy Church, For the Pope, For all orders and degrees of the faithful, For the unity of Christians, For the Jewish People, For those who do not believe in Christ, For those who do not believe in God, For those in public office, and For those in tribulation.

After the Solemn Intercessions, there is Adoration of the Holy Cross. The priest(s), deacons and/or altar servers, process with a cross which has been covered with a purple veil (purple is the color associated with penance and was also worn royalty and more than likely the color of the garment the Roman soldiers put on Jesus). As the cross is brought forth and held before the altar, the priest (assisted by the Deacon and/or altar servers) uncovers a little of the cross each time by chanting the words – “Behold the wood of the Cross” (Ecce lignum Crucis) and all chant is response – “Come let us adore” (Venite, adoremus).

Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Ad Orientem) at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church 2016.

After the Adoration of the cross, an altar cloth is spread on the altar as is a corporal and the Missal put in place. The Blessed Sacrament is brought from its place of keeping (from the conclusion of Holy Thursday Mass to this point, the Holy Eucharist is not kept in the Tabernacle).  The Our Father is either chanted (or recited). After this, Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. Since the Holy Mass is not celebrated on this day, more hosts should be consecrated during the Mass on Holy Thursday. Once Communion has ended and the prayer over the people is recited – all depart in silence.

We now come to my favorite part of the Sacred Triduum – The Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the Mass where the elect (formerly catechumens) and those seeking full communion (candidates) are welcomed into the Catholic Church. For 2 ½ years, I was privileged to work with the adults of our parish in preparing them to receive the Sacraments on this night. It is a blessing that is incredibly difficult to put into words, especially watching the adults who are baptized. Although I am no longer involved in the daily duties of preparation, I still teach these individuals during the year.

As the Sacred Liturgy begins, there is the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Candle. After the candle is prepared, the Easter Proclamation is recited. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear the seven Old Testament readings of Salvation History accompanied with seven Psalms in response, an epistle from Paul, and then the Gospel Reading. For those of us that love the Sacred Scriptures and Salvation History, this Mass is by far the best set of readings for the entire year. After the readings, we chant the Gloria (the lights come on brighter) and we can finally say Alleluia again.

After the homily is given, the Baptismal Liturgy begins which includes the Litany of the Saints, the blessing of the baptismal water, the Rite of Baptism (the Elect come forward with their Godparents), and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the faithful. If you never seen an adult received the Sacrament of Baptism, I encourage you to attend the Easter Vigil. It’s a moving experience!

Once everyone is baptized, the newly baptized along with those seeking full communion (they make a Profession of Faith) receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Once all have received Confirmation, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins and Mass continues and concludes as usual. The newly baptized Catholics and the newly professed Catholics for the first time receive Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. As the Easter Vigil comes to a close, the Church finds herself in the Easter Season looking 40 days ahead to the Ascension of Our Lord and 50 days to another great feast (and high holy day), Pentecost Sunday.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection over sin and death. We cannot have the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. The Paschal Mystery – Passion, Death, and Resurrection is now complete. Jesus Christ has Risen from the Dead!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1169 states, “Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday” and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”

I would really encourage you to attend these high holy days if you haven’t done so before. If you have been in the past, but haven’t been in some time, I would hope you attend. To really see Easter Sunday at its fullest, you should participate in the days proceeding. There really is nothing else like it in the liturgical year. We have truly entered the High Holy Days of Catholicism.

“Mondays with Mary” – Reflecting on the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cross

Since we have now entered the holiest weeks of all weeks in the Church’s liturgical year, also known as the Great Week in the East, I want to focus as I have done in years past, on Mary at the Cross. However, instead of focusing on the theology, I want to just examine some points in the hopes that you may reflect on them during this Holy Week.

In a culture that abhors suffering and pain, I remember the words of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete of Communion and Liberation,

“Suffering is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived.”

In regards to the cross of Jesus Christ, and the blood, sweat, agony, and suffering, I believe these words give us an insight to the suffering Our Lord endured and willfully embraced. I also believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary also lived these words out in her life, since she never fled from the suffering of her Son, even when it might have become too much to bear. She embraced his suffering and partook in that suffering, not physically, but spiritually as any mother would for their child.

We know that the walk to Calvary began at the Wedding Feast of Cana when the Blessed Mother requests that Jesus assist in the dilemma of the young couple having no more wine to offer. Unlike Cana, at the cross, Mary doesn’t utter one word. But what was she thinking? Could she have been remembering the life of Jesus as a child or her time when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would have a son? We will never know completely on this side of Heaven, but the one thing we do know is that Jesus gave her to us on the cross through the Beloved Disciple, Saint John. From that point on, John took her into his home and cared for her as his own mother.

In our relationship with the Blessed Mother, I have some questions for us – Have we taken Mary into our homes? Like the Apostle John, have we allowed her to enter into the lives of our families? Like the couple who ran out of wine, have we asked her to intercede to Our Lord for us?

Among many non-Catholic Christians today, and even some Catholics, the Blessed Virgin Mary is rejected, although in the Sacred Scriptures she is “blessed among women” and is professed “full of grace” by the Angel Gabriel. Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters because of poor theology and faulty catechesis, reject the Mother of God and degrade her to just another woman that doesn’t deserve any honor or recognition. She is often misunderstood and is portrayed as a pagan goddess, a mother-goddess. Again, here we see a lack of clear thinking and the conclusions of the many divisions among the Christian faithful.

Although seen as the forerunner of Protestantism, Martin Luther had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He once wrote,

“Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of us all. If Christ be ours…all that he has must be ours, and His Mother also must be ours.”

In our daily lives, how do we include Mary? Simply, we must walk with her through faith, humility, and obedience. Through these three elements, Mary walked with Our Lord to the cross. Even though she was wounded, scorned, and in pain, she still walked with Him…and so must we.

One of the points I made above was that she did not speak at the Cross. More likely, she listened. How did she listen? She listened in her obedience. It seems to me that most Catholics want to be faithful and seek humility, but many reject obedience. We can’t follow Our Lord and His Catholic Church, as well as walk with his Mother, if we reject obedience.

In the book, Into Your Hands, Father, the Belgian Carmelite, Fr. Wilfred Stinissen, says the following,

“If God does not will something in every detail of our life, it is up to us to ‘discern the will of the Lord’. To be able to ‘obey’, we must ‘listen’…That is how Mary lived, with her eyes continually turned toward God. Her gaze was one single question, ‘What would you have me do?’”

These words I believe singularly define the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and most distinctly at the foot of the cross. Although I think many of us are fearful to “Behold, your mother”, the words of Jesus to St. John at Cross, this is precisely what we are called to do. We are to walk with Mary through faith, humility, and obedience.

To conclude this reflection, I leave you these words since they wrap up for me exactly what I tried to help you reflect upon today –

“Mary’s Way leads us to Calvary, and from there to the empty tomb. It is not an easy path, but Mary was unafraid. By her faithful and humble life, and by her presence at the cross, she shows us how to overcome the greatest obstacle to the spiritual life, fear. Let us meet her in her pain, her loss, and her grief. Let us choose, then, without fear, to accept suffering into our lives as she did, to welcome the wounds of love. Only in doing so can we also share with her the joy of the Resurrection” (The Prayer of Mary, Keith Fournier).

Stabat Mater Dolorosa…Pray for Us 

“Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom

Since yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s entrance into eternal glory, I thought I would combine his words on Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom with Mary in Old Testament (a series I have been writing recently) for today’s “Mondays with Mary.” Before we focus on the late Holy Father’s words, let us turn our gaze to understanding the Old Testament Marian symbol – “Created Wisdom.”

In the Old Testament, we see some rather transcendent passages on the idea of Wisdom, which focuses on the divine Person, the Father’s Word, who exists and works before all of creation is formed, most notably, Sirach 24:3-21 and Proverbs 8:22-35. The Church in the liturgical texts has used these transcendent scriptures for two Marian feasts since the seventh and tenth centuries – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven and The Nativity of Mary. In the Lectionary, these passages are commonly used for the Masses for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headed as “Mary, Seat of Wisdom.”

Since the seventh century, the Church has employed these texts to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This did not happen through simple accommodation, but through the simple and basic understanding of the texts, which “evidently is found in the letter of the text, but at the same time surpasses it, widens it, and enriches it.”

We see then that through the writings of the sacred author, “Wisdom, by way of reflection and participation is ascribed to Mary, the Mother of the Word of God, who from eternity was predestined, as Ineffabilis Deus, in one and the same decree with the Incarnation of divine Wisdom.” Understanding this, it is clear that Mary shares and plays a fundamental role in the mission of the Incarnation as well as the perquisites of the Word who dwelt among us, the hypostatic Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom, which was uncreated, was now incarnate in Mary, making her the epicenter of Life and Truth. She is truly “Created Wisdom.”

Madonna as Seat of Wisdom, 1199

Now that we have come to an understanding of the Marian symbol – “created wisdom”, let us turn our attention to five quotes by Pope St. John Paul II that focus on the Marian title, Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom –

1. “The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed. – Termi, Italy, 1981

2. “Beloved young people! Continue to live in the truth and for the truth! May the Blessed Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom, Mother of the Word who enlightens every man, assist you, enlighten you, and comfort you.” – Rome, Italy, 1979

3. “To succeed in your intentions, entrust yourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary always, but especially in moments of difficulty and darkness. ‘From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…Learn from her to be always faithful, to trust that God’s Word to you will be fulfilled, and that nothing is impossible with God.’” – Washington, D.C., 1979

4. “The cross is the living book from which we learn definitively who we are and how we must act. This book is always open in front of us. Read, reflect, enjoy this new wisdom. Make it your own and you will walk also along the paths of knowledge, culture, and university life, spreading light in a service of love, worthy of children of God.

And look also the Blessed Virgin, standing by the cross of Jesus (Jn. 19:25) where she is given to us as our mother: she is our hope, the seat of true Wisdom.” – Rome, Italy, 1980

5. “Be faithful to the Mother of fair love. Have trust in her, as you shape your love and form your young families. May Christ always be there for you “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – Krakow, Poland, 1979

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.

Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship – Week 4: Offering Our Sins

On February 28, I wrote about the first ever Lenten Video Study produced by the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Gilbert, Arizona. The title of the study is Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship. If you signed up for the study through our parish Flocknote service, then you have been receiving weekly videos that pertain to this study. To learn more about this study and how it came to be, here is the article I wrote on February 28.

For today’s article, I am sharing my video and reflections with you. I was assigned to focus on how we can offer our sins to God through Worship. Below is my video, the reading that goes with the video, which is from The Way of the Disciple by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, questions to answer, and then a prayer to recite. There are also additional resources at the end, including my favorite poem which was given to me in my Senior Seminar Class in the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco 20 years ago by the aforementioned author.

Make time this week to prayerfully read and reflect on this excerpt…

“The great moral problem of the Samaritan appears to be that, in her search for love, she has had too many husbands. And her present “husband” really is not one at all. The frantic search for love, which often compensates for the lack of quality by sheer force of quantity, in the end has only created a greater void in the soul. After so many men, the woman finds herself alone, face to face with the Son of Man.

An interesting exegetical notation to John 4:18 (“You have had five husbands, and he whom you have now is not your husband”) refers us to 2 Kings 17:24: “And the King of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria, and dwelt in her cities.” These five pagan nations, which supplied occupants for Samaria, have been apparently symbolized by John in the woman’s five husbands, to indicate the Samaritan’s religious and moral perversion in the eyes of the Judeans, who had kept their faith and their race pure from foreign admixtures. The woman, personifying Samaria, and Samaria, personifying all sinners, together represent the human slide towards idolatry, self-indulgence, and the abandonment of God’s Law. Note, too, the sexual connotation of the expression “they took possession of Samaria”. The fundamental question here is our tendency to allow ourselves to be seduced by any lover other than God. The present, sixth “husband” on call, who is not really a husband, would then refer to the current Roman occupation that in the end utterly destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
We then have a grand total of six husbands, who neither singly nor collectively have brought the woman any lasting happiness. After so much flirtation with love, the poor Samaritan still has to draw water alone at noontime, still has to continue looking after herself. What an unbearable burden, to invest so much in “love” and get so little in return! But Jesus is the seventh Man, who comes to remove this burden from her shoulders. Seven, as we know, is the number of perfection, the number signaling the end of the search, the fulfillment of all desire, the arrival home.  What at first had been the mere breaking of a double taboo- Judean man talking to a Samarian woman- is revealed at this point as something much deeper: if Jesus dares to approach her and speak so intimately with her, without her covering her face with a veil (note how even the disciples are a little scandalized: “They marveled that he was talking with a woman”) it is because he is wooing her in order to seduce her heart and persuade her to welcome him as the Bridegroom of her soul.

We necessarily skip over all the other numerous aspects of the episode to conclude with one final theme: the conversion of the woman from needy sinner to disciple and evangelist. Jesus has peered into the depths of her soul and revealed to her her own innermost secrets, above all, her deep sadness at never having found a true love. But this revelation, far from frightening, depressing, or scaring her away, rather fills the woman with joy, the joy that announces the beginning of a new life. When he proclaims her sins to her, Jesus works a kind of exorcism that frees her of them. “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 I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” The fact that Jesus has cleansed her soul with his gaze incites her to recognize in him the Messiah sent by God, the anointed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

The abandonment of the water jar, like Bartimaeus’ throwing off his old rag, symbolizes the newness of life that derives everything from Jesus, a life that no longer needs to carry the same crushing and absurd burdens or repeat the same useless tasks. Notice that, throughout the episode, neither Jesus nor the woman ever drinks a single drop of water, even though everything was set in motion by thirst of the body. The two have been refreshed and satisfied by their dialogue of love- he by making himself known and inviting her to intimacy with him, she by opening up little by little to divine seduction and surrendering at last with all the jubilation and immense relief of an enslaved soul that exits to freedom.

Such liberation makes her hasten to her townspeople, the very ones who have previously rejected her. Now she cares little about her marginal status: the rejected one now breaks the barrier that Jesus has first broken in approaching her, but now in order to proclaim to one and all what she has found. “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” But this new disciple, who has drunk in Jesus’ essential teaching in what could be called a very accelerated crash course, is only an ambassador, the precursor who is followed by Jesus’ personal presence. Her personal witnesses opened up hearts and ears, preparing people to receive Jesus in person. She makes herself into a pure instrument of God’s love; now she seems consumed with one desire: to love Jesus and bring others to him.

The true disciple rejoices at nothing more than at hearing what the woman heard in the end: “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this indeed is the Saviour of the world.” What greater joy could be ours, too, than to know that many others may come to share in our own delight at having been found by Jesus.”

Reflect

After watching the video and reading the excerpt, consider these questions for prayerful reflection, journaling, and/or discussion with others…

  • What in your personal life is the “water jar” or “old rag” that is keeping you from abandoning yourself completely to God?
  • If you haven’t been to the Sacrament of Confession in some time, what is holding you back from God’s mercy and forgiveness? If you have been to Confession recently, what brought you to the Sacrament?
  • Do you struggle to reconcile the sins of your daily life with your call to be a disciple in the world?
  • Are you ready for a metanoia – a revolution of your soul – in your relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church?