Francis of Assisi
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Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
The incident in John’s Gospel today happened as Jesus and his disciples were passing through Samaria on their way from Judea to Galilee. Samaria was a region inhabited since about 722 BC by a people mostly pagan and very anti Jewish. However, the Samaritans retained and believed in the first five books of the Old Testament and did have some knowledge of the God of the Jews, The woman with whom Jesus spoke, and many of her compatriots, were expecting the same Messiah as the Jews. Considering the animosity that existed between the Samaritans and the Jews, The woman was surprised that a Jew would even speak to her let alone ask a favor of her. Jesus tells the woman that the "spiritual drink" he has come to give is not given to preserve bodily life, but rather to give eternal life to those who will drink of it. Not only will they know and serve the true God in this life, But, if they serve him "in spirit and in truth" during their earthly life they will be given a right to an everlasting life with God.
This is the kernel, the essence of our Christian faith. In baptism we’ve been made children of God, heirs of heaven, and directed toward our eternal destination. Christ has given to his Church all the means and all the help we need to complete that journey. We have the road map clearly drawn in the infallible, dogmatic and moral teaching of the Church. We have the sacraments, which can be considered the first aid stations along the route, where those who injure themselves by sin, can be medicated and made sound once more. We have, above all, the miraculous nourishment of the Eucharist the manna of the New Testament – Jesus Christ himself, who so lovingly arranged to be our spiritual food and sustenance during life's journey.
What more could God have done for us to bring us to his kingdom? Can we as thinking Christians be so neglectful of our own true and lasting welfare that we’d ignore the divine guidance and graces God has provided us? Are we content to sit by the wayside in spiritual rags and misery? It would be unthinkable to do so. We can learn another very practical and urgent lesson from this incident at Jacob's well. It’s the lesson that condemns racism. St. Paul (and the other Apostles), insisted that the gospel of Christ and the brotherhood of Christ is for all people. Paul said, as far as Christianity is concerned, there is neither "Jew nor Gentile, Greek nor barbarian". Jesus himself first taught this truth, and he taught it again at Jacob's well as we heard in today's gospel.
For centuries, Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies. But on that day at Jacob's well Jesus broke down this separating wall. While admitting that their knowledge, up to then, of the true God was faulty, they too were acceptable to God, as his adopted children. They too could and would become members of his earthly and eternal kingdom. Jesus’ mercy and kindness broke through racial and national barriers on that day in Samaria. There is a very necessary lesson for us to learn from Jesus’ actions that day.
Today something very basic has gone wrong with our Christianity, or rather with our application of it to our own daily lives. Our world is torn to pieces by fraternal strife. Not only is one nation against or threatening another, but groups and factions, classes, creeds and colors are fighting one another within one nation. (Bahrain, Libya, Egypt) We may well be surprised when we learn the family living next door is in disarray and conflict. Why can't they live in love and harmony as a family should? But what of our country – What of this planet on which we live, are they not the home of one family the family of God, the human race? Why are we quarreling with our neighbors, why do we hate one another, why can’t we live in peace?
But if we are who we say we are, we can live in peace, if and when each one of us recognizes our neighbors as our brothers and sisters. We can live in peace, when we can put aside our personal prejudices and selfish wants. We can live in peace, when we embrace and practice the charity of Jesus as Jesus practiced it toward us, and not the demonstrations, or protests, or force of arms that are so prevalent today. When we truly practice Jesus’ charity this earth will once more be the true home of the whole human family as God has intended from the beginning of time.