From Father's Desk

My Dear Family,

I have been praying for you this Lent. I do pray for our parish everyday, but… well, it was getting a little automatic. The feeling and freshness of my prayer had waned. For Lent with our Fresh Eyes homily series, I wanted to take a fresh approach to this prayer and really lift up our whole spiritual family into the arms of God. I pray you are having a wonderful and fruitful Lenten journey.

God is alive - the fullness of life! And He is active all the time. One philosophical definition for God is “pure act” (actus purus), meaning no potential energy but only actuated or kinetic energy. God is the opposite of the couch potato. His action is constant. In the Letter to the Hebrews we encounter a powerful biblical phrase that compliments that idea nicely: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12) We hold that the very same Word of God took flesh and dwelt among us, the fullness of grace and truth - Jesus Christ (see Jn 1:14).

Everytime we pray with the Scriptures we are encountering the living God. Each time we meet our Lord in the Gospel, we are coming into contact with the same active and piercing Word. Today, we witness a moving encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (Jn 4). Jacob’s well is still a well today, now enclosed in Saint Photini Church in Balata Village. It is so exciting to think that we can go and visit the same location where this meeting took place, especially since it led to the conversion of so many. First, however, Jesus had to open her mind and heart, discerning how to meet the woman in her current situation. Jesus meets each of us right where we are in life. And then He leads her delicately towards the path of conversion.

FreshEyes wk3There are so many beautiful details recounted by Saint John - a wealth of spiritual riches for those with fresh eyes. One of the most moving realities, at least for me, is what happens with the food and drink.

Notice what happens with the food. Jesus’ disciples leave him at the well to go into town to look for some food; it was lunch time. Jesus was tired from his journey, probably hungry. And when the disciples finally return, they tell Jesus, “Rabbi, eat.” Instead, He notes that he has a certain unknown food which is, “To do the will of the one who sent me.” The mission is more nourishing than lunch could ever be. Accomplishing the Father’s will is a deeper sustenance, which leads to a deeper satisfaction. We might even say it is a kind of food that wells up from within. That is a powerful thought when we are fasting, to turn our hunger into a yearning to accomplish the will of God.

Consider also what happens with the drink. Jesus is thirsty. He began with the words, “Give me a drink,” yet he was really working towards giving her “the spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman arrived with an empty water jug to fill it at the well. This would have been water for her whole household, fetched once or maybe twice a day. Yet in her growing excitement upon meeting the Messiah, she leaves her water jar at the well, and goes back into town to immediately tell the townspeople of her encounter. This meeting has stirred her to action, moved her, and it is as if she cannot contain herself but must share the good news of the one she has come to know. It seems she did receive that deeper spiritual drink which quenches the deeper thirst.

This Lent one question might be: what are you really thirsty for? I am praying for you each day during Lent. Please pray for me!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Joel