Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Faith is a Journey

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Faith is a Journey

Faith is a Journey

Though we are more connected than ever these days with technology, sometimes I think we are more isolated than ever. For instance if you think about, how many people get lost in entertainment or technology, at the cost of developing real relationships? Or how much time is spent on escapism vs. taking a hard look at oneself and taking the steps that are needed for real growth?

Now don’t get me wrong. Entertainment is a good thing. And technology has helped make so many things accessible too, from communication to information. But I think sometimes lost in this can be the individual, who at times may feel quite alone.

In this week’s Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, we have the beautiful story of the woman at the well. Jesus is going through Samaritan territory (Samaritans were not liked by ordinary Jews because they often had mixed ancestry of Jewish and Pagan, and did not consider their temple as the one in Jerusalem; in fact Jews would often avoid Samaritan territory altogether). A woman is getting water in the middle of the day, when it is quite hot. From the outset, we can tell that this woman is ostracized by others in the community for some reason, and she certainly would not expect a man and a Jewish one at that to talk to her.

And yet there is the Lord, meeting her where she is at. And what follows is a beautiful journey of self-discovery and faith.

As the story goes on, we learn that this woman has made some bad choices, and likely has had some bad luck as well with respect to her relationships. She has had multiple failed marriages, and now is living with a man outside of wedlock. This is the reason she is shunned by others in the community. Jesus senses she is carrying this inside of her; this burden. And the two begin the conversation.

It centers around the water at the well, and it goes from the woman thinking Jesus, who offers her water that will quench her deepest thirsts, is referring to the water in the literal well. But as it goes on, she comes to see Him as something much more; a prophet; perhaps even the coming Messiah.

The two also have a conversation where He lays the cards on the table of her situation in life. But it’s not to shame her; it’s an acknowledgment of the reality of sin. And note she does not run away at that, but rather the conversation continues between the two. He is not there to shame her, but to help her; and once she opens her eyes, her mind and her heart, she is able to rejoice at what He offers her. So great is her joy, that she goes and tells the other people. No longer is she in the margins. Rather she has had this beautiful faith journey that now causes others to rejoice too.

This is one of my favorite stories in the Gospel, because it shows us how faith is indeed a journey of responding to the grace of God.

For one, it involves coming to know our God. So many know the name of God, but do they really know God? Some think of Him as a judge who is out to get them and will remember every little thing they had done. Others think of Him as the genie in the lamp who should give them what they want. Others blame Him for everything that goes wrong. Others are modern day Pharisees who go through the motions and maybe have an understanding of God in the head but not the heart. Truly getting to know God means being open to understanding Him; it means learning about our faith; it means prayer; it means entering into the Mass; it means asking questions and thinking. So how is the journey going? It’s a good question to ask as we get into the heart of Lent. Come to know God in different ways. Let Him speak to you. And come to know your faith at a deeper level so like this woman, you can proclaim it and be a fisher of men.

But with this, we should also ask ourselves a question: who am I? Hopefully you know first and foremost how much you are loved by God. But we need to ask ourselves too what are we doing right, and what are we doing wrong. How are we responding to the love God has given us? How are we living out our faith? How are we treating the people in our lives, especially within our families? What are the sins that are bogging us down and preventing us from being truly happy? Are we listening to what God is inviting us to do or resisting? The answer to these questions can sometimes be uncomfortable. But God will help us to do so many great things when we work with Him.

Faith is indeed an incredible journey; saying “I believe” is the tip of the iceberg. Learning what those words mean takes up a lifetime. God wants to give us so much. Like the woman at the well, may we come to learn what an incredible gift we’ve been offered.

Have a blessed Lenten Journey,

Fr. Paul

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March 2023

 

 

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