Mutual Thirst: Our Rest is in God Alone (3-11-2011 Cycle A for RCIA)
St. Augustine of Hippo is famous for many things, but one of his best quotes is this: “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.” This summarizes what we find in the readings today.
In today's Gospel, a Samaritan woman, whose heart is wandering in a desert looking for water like the Israelites, meets a man, and something incredible happens: the more she gets to know him, the more she discovers about her deepest self, a process that for her brings trembling, fear, some old pains, and ultimately the peace of being fully known and still unwaveringly loved. Here in this encounter we see these words from the Catechism (142) come to light: By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."1 The adequate response to this invitation is faith.
The Lord clearly invites this woman into a relationship today, and she responds, but slowly and in stages. At first, she refers to him simply as a Jew, but then only “Sir” and later on he becomes for her a “prophet.” Finally she discovers him to be the Christ, the Messiah who is to come, who has come right before her. This process ultimately breeds in this woman a great faith that drives her to invite others into the mystery of who this man is. By her words, “can this indeed be the Christ?,” we see someone touched so deeply that she keeps the full truth of her experience secret, offering others the opportunity to enter into the same life-giving encounter with their God. CCC 143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".3
That faith wasn't something that came instantly full-grown for the woman, and neither does it for us. We have to be guided into faith with Christ. In these next three weeks, we as a parish walk with our Catechumens who are preparing for Baptism (and our Candidates for full communion), who have journeyed slowly deeper into Christ and His Church. Are we ourselves making similar progress? Hopefully we aren't in the same place we were last year. Have we talked with Christ? Have we brought to him our questions and fears? Has he drawn out our wounds to heal us? Have we rested in Him presence, aware the He knows us and still loves us?
Faith leads us to concrete activities which come to the fore during Lent: prayer, fasting, good works of charity and compassion. As we are quenched of our thirst by Our Lord in this Eucharist, let us beg Him that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will overflow within us and help us to make these Lenten practices a part of our daily life.