Lenten Reflections on Love – Week IV
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What is Paul driving at when he says that love does not insist on its own way? Pope Francis suggests that love must be free from deep resentment and hidden irritations. For him, indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice; when it permeates our attitude towards others, it is harmful. Francis recognizes that we will have moments of internal irritation and that one way to return to the path of love is by making a small effort or gesture that will soften the hardness of our prior irritations.
If we look again at this week’s Gospel of Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 5-42), we can find aspects of this type of love. Let us begin by imagining that we are also at Jacob’s well with Jesus as he asks the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. We are shocked.
The Gospel says Jews used nothing in common with Samaritans (John 4: 10). But in reaching out across cultural and gender barriers, Jesus is showing a magnanimous love that does not insist on its own way. Jesus went further in this outpouring of love, offering her “living water”, precisely because he knew about her past. And the woman, undoubtedly at first shocked and irritated that Jesus, a Jew, had occupied her space, changed too in the dramatic encounter. She left behind her water jar (John 4:28) as she returned to her village to share how her encounter with Jesus changed her heart. It was a small gesture on her part, a sign that her heart, once irritated, was now filled with love.
As this week unfolds, you might spend a few minutes each day reflecting on Jesus’ outpouring of love, his living water, and how it is available to you, right now. And think of the Samaritan woman, her life radically changed by encountering the Messiah, and her water jar, a small gesture of her love. What small gesture of love can you offer this week, to a person who irritates you?
- Prepared by parishioner Roger Sullivan
Next - Week V
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