It’s the third week of Lent and for the third time, this Lenten season, a small group of women from our parish gathered to share our faith and discuss the Gospel reading we will hear at church on Sunday.
We have met every Tuesday evening at our home, around our dining room table. Over 20 other small faith sharing groups from our parish have also been meeting weekly this Lent, as part of a new program we call Companions on the Journey. As member of our parish’s Adult Faith Formation Commission, it has been awesome to help develop and offer this to our faith community.
Each week a guide-book, we have used to facilitate our discussion, suggests how to set the environment for our gathering. At first I found this to be a bit annoying and time-consuming, but now I look forward to the challenge of finding things that go with each week’s theme for our table.
Tonight we read John 4:5 – 42. For those who are not familiar with this Gospel reading or haven’t visited it in a while, it’s the story of Jesus, a Jewish man, meeting a Samaritan woman at a well outside of her village.
It is a long reading and at face value, as mentioned in our discussion guide, some may see it as a tale about “sexual morality,” as the woman is said to have had five husbands. However, the authors of Open our Hearts: A Small-Group Guide for an Active Lent (Cycle A), Donna L. Ciangio, O.P. and Thomas B. Iwanowski, suggest that is a parable about rejection and acceptance.
I appreciate their perspective and the conversation it sparked among the women in our group. Reading the Gospel together, followed by the authors’ thoughtful reflection and discussion questions, encouraged us think about the times we have felt rejected or excluded others from our lives.
How did we feel?
How did we cope?
As a group we made the connection between our belief that God accepts us for who we are, as we are and where we are, throughout our lives, and how we feel called to do the same for others.
As Ciangio and Iwanowski say in their reflection on John’s Gospel,
The woman who had gone to the well rejected, alone, and disrespected, returns to village transformed, telling her fellow Samaritans about the marvelous Jewish prophet she had met. She becomes the one through which they come to Jesus. They too are accepted. They too come to know “this truly is the savior of the world.”
This Gospel reminds us that the Lord Jesus also met us at a “well” when we were plunged into the living waters of baptism. During this Lenten season, the Lord invites us to draw ever closer to him, for as he said, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” (John 6:37).
What I took away from tonight is our call, as Christians (and human beings), to be Christ to each other — to share God’s love, light, hope, grace, peace and acceptance.
Rejection is painful.
It hurts, a lot.
As we strive to heal from our experiences with rejection and exclusion, I pray that we find comfort in God’s love, light, hope, grace, peace and acceptance, as well as through our relationships with others.
It is difficult at times to feel grateful for and to focus on those in our lives who feed us, as opposed to the eaters.
To and for those who do not share our Christian/catholic faith, as human beings, I believe we can still share love, light, hope, grace, peace and acceptance.
During this Lenten season, wherever this post finds you, and whatever you believe, I send healing thoughts and prayers your way.
I hope and pray you feel accepted for who you are and that you are able to accept others in your life, without judgement.
I know it is easier said, than done.
We are all works in progress.
I also hope and pray that we all can be more kind to, patient with, and accepting of, ourselves.
Take care and may God bless you and yours.