Re-membering Our Lives

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March 19, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

March 19, 2017
John 4:5-42
Fr. George Smiga

Susan’s mother was eighty-one years old and suffering from dementia. She did an admirable job of faking it, compensating for her lack of memory with skill and grace. But Susan knew that it was just a matter of time before her mother would no longer recognize her. This happened soon after the first of the year when her mother came over to Susan’s house for dinner. In the course of the meal she turned to Susan and said “My dear, could you remind me how we met?” Taken aback Susan said, “Mom, you gave birth to me.” “Well”, said her mother trying to recover, “If I gave birth to you, why didn’t I raise you?” “You did raise me Mother, and you raised me very well.” With that Susan got up to hide her distress. She went into the kitchen. Her mother followed her. Taking her hand she said to Susan, “Don’t cry my dear, I’m getting old. I know that I should remember who you are, but somehow that has slipped from my mind. But even though I do not know your name, I do know that I love you, and I believe you love me in return. Am I right?” Susan said, “I love you Mom with all of my heart.” “Good” her mother said, “Good. If you love me then do this for me. Tell me everything. I want to know every detail: where you were born, where you went to high school and college, what you do for a living, did you ever marry? do you have children? Come back with me to the table,  sit down next to me, and tell me all of it.” And that’s what the two of them did.

That which is broken can be healed, if we believe that someone cares. Our lives can be re-membered, if we know that we are loved. This is what happens to the Samaritan woman in today’s gospel. She meets Jesus at a well, and they begin to talk. In that conversation she changes. But the reason she changes is important: she has come to know that Jesus accepts her as the person she is, and just as she is.

Jesus and the woman talk about many things. They talk about living water, Jacob’s well, and true worship. But when she goes back to tell her neighbors what has happened to her, she mentions none of those weighty matters. What she says is, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.” Her life has been changed not by theology or instruction, but because her story has been remembered by someone who accepted her without judgment. She has become a new woman not only because Jesus revealed himself to her, but because Jesus revealed her to herself. Despite her sins and mistakes, she now understands that she is a beloved daughter of God.

Today’s gospel invites you and me to imitate the Samaritan woman, to allow our brokenness to be healed by the power of God’s love. The gospel invites us to place before the Lord all of our mistakes, everyone we have hurt, all the dreams we have betrayed, all the disappointments we cannot forget, and listen as Jesus covers each one with his forgiveness. The gospel invites us to see our own story re-membered through Christ’s eyes, until all that remains is a son or a daughter who has been saved by God’s grace. And if we dare to allow Jesus to love us so, we like the Samaritan woman will be able to leave our water jar at the well, because we will no longer need to draw up that which never satisfies. We will carry in our hearts the “living water” of God’s forgiveness and love.

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