We’ve all been there: dejected, lost, unfocused, isolated. We search for worth in places that can never give worth. If we are fortunate, we go get our hair and nails done, buy a new outfit, or waste a day sitting on the couch doing nothing productive. If we are less fortunate, we overspend on credit cards, eat too many chips, and scroll through social media comparing our lives to others’. If we are headed for disaster, we become addicts, fall into the arms of a man without honor, or face suicide ideation.
It happens all too often.
We think making a purchase, changing something about ourselves, or being in the arms of someone who makes us feel special will make us feel better about ourselves, and it works…for a while.
That’s the thing about all the “remedies” above. In the moment, they all seem to provide solace, comfort, and value we crave.
Some “remedies” are even good for us! It is good to make connections with others. It is good to love and be loved. It is good to take time to rest and recover. It is good to get our hair and nails done. It is good to care for ourselves, especially when no one else will.
The issue with all of these so-called “remedies is that they are only temporary. In best case scenarios, their uplift lasts only a short while before we must seek more. In worst scenarios, we lower our standards for others and ourselves and are further degraded. Without knowing why, we sink deeper into feelings of unworthiness, discouragement, and despair. Then we seek another “remedy,” and the cycle continues.
The Woman at the Well
It’s been over 2000 years since Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, but this ancient woman would have felt every emotion we do. There would have been no pain she did not know firsthand. To make matters worse, in a big city, she must have felt very alone.
The noonday sun would have been high over head she hiked without a friend in the world to the well.
Maybe she was avoiding gossip and judgment of others. Maybe she was avoiding shame and despair in herself. Maybe she was on the verge of giving up and hadn’t had the energy to drag herself to even get a drink earlier…I know I have had days like that.
Yet, there in the noonday sun, sat Jesus, waiting, not for a drink, but for this particular woman.
We tend to focus on the woman in the story because we see ourselves in her. We have broken, difficult, traumatized lives. We crave stories of hope and to know we are seen. We need to know that, while it seems as if we hike alone to our wells in the hot noonday sun, we are never alone. We hope the heat we feel is the burning Love of the Creator who knows everything about us and Loves us anyway.
The woman at the well found that in Jesus.
But she did not find it right away.
First she was ridiculed, used, abused, taken advantage of and taken for granted. She was gossiped about, judged, and overlooked. She was outcast, tossed aside, abandoned, isolated.
As if that wasn’t enough, she had to hike to the well and face this Man who, her mind must have told her, would find no value within her. I’m guessing her hardened heart would have told her that if He did see value in her, she would have seen less value in Him.
The final humiliation would have been in listening to this Man tell her all she had done.
But she is not humiliated. She does not harden her heart. She does not see this Man as less. Instead, she recognizes He is the Prophet. She sees He is Love itself and then she does something interesting.
Put yourself in the woman’s place for a minute. Imagine sitting in the presence of God receiving time and worth that no man has ever given you. Imagine years of suffering and worthlessness, confusion and shame, and all the times you’d been kicked to the curb. Think of this in your few moments standing with the Lord.
What would you say? What would you do? What questions would you ask?
I’d probably want to know why I had to go through my pain. I’d want to know why He hadn’t stopped evil from impacting my life. I’d want to know that Justice would prevail. I’d try to explain away my own behavior. I’d talk of the trauma of revictimization as if Jesus did not already know.
I’d want to sit close to Him and soak in His Love for me and ask Him to teach me to Love Him the same way.
Yet the woman does none of this.
Instead, John 4:28-29 say the Samaritan woman:
The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah? She did not ask why she had to be so hurt for so many years. She did not question why the abuse did not stop or accuse Jesus of not being there for her. There was no trying to explain her way out of her sinful behavior.
She did not even sit by His side and soak in His Love.
Instead, she left her water jar and went to the very people who’d hurt, used, and isolated her. She dropped everything to bring those who’d hurt her the Good News of the Messiah. What is more miraculous is that these hard people believed her and through her believed Him.
The woman’s encounter with Jesus changed her so radically, that she admitted her sins, confessed to the Lord, and left everything behind to bring others, even those who had so badly hurt her, to the Lord. She trudged up to the well a broken, weary woman and ran down to the town a changed, joyful daughter of the King.
Where Do We Find Jesus?
Fortunately, most of us do not have to walk to a well for our water. Even with friends in the cool of morning, this does not sound like a chore I’d enjoy on a daily basis. I like my kitchen sink. I like turning on the tap and having what I want at my fingertips.
Even if I had a well to walk to, I seriously doubt I’d find Jesus lounging on a rock just waiting for me to show up. Knowing this, where do we find Jesus?
We find Jesus in the Eucharist.
Again, we have it so easy today! We are spoiled and yet we have lost the connection to the Spiritual World our ancestors had. The woman at the well was open to Jesus because, despite all the hardness in her heart, the hardness necessary to survive her lifestyle, she believed.
It is that simple.
Her belief changed her. We can guess she stopped sleeping around, forgave her persecutors, and led them to Christ.
She believed and her belief changed her – radically.
Today, we need to reconnect to that belief.
We need to understand Jesus is with us spiritually in every moment, but He is also with us physically too, and we need to trudge up our hills, often alone, to be with Him.
Jesus is as physically present in the Eucharist as He was by the well.
We know this is hard to understand. Jesus knew it too. See an excerpt from John 6:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him
Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’
After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
This is the only time Jesus’ followers leave for doctrinal reasons. He does not follow them. He does not correct them. He does not say He spoke in metaphors or explain what he “meant” to say.
The final verse, where the people are led astray is John 6:66. Let that sink in.
Jesus is Lord. He is alive in the Eucharist.
We meet the Lord and reenact His Last Supper and Sacrifice at every Catholic Mass. Every time we reverently and gratefully partake of that Host, we become one with Him. This sharing is not in a new agey, “I am god and god is me” kind of way, but in a deeply intimate Communion with Him. We can leave our empty jars behind and take from Him the Living Water our Bread of Life.
It is through the Eucharist that we find the strength to admit our sins and the Grace to accept God’s Mercy. It is through the Eucharist that we find the mercy to forgive those who harm us and ask the Lord to invite them to Heaven as well. It is through opening your heart to possibility and the belief that God still speaks in the Voice of a Shepherd that you begin to heal.
Ask anyone who commits to regularly sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour of Adoration if she has not heard the Voice of God speak to her. Sometimes this Voice is a whisper. Other times it is as clear as the Samaritan woman must have heard it. It may take many trips up the hill to the well, but all eventually hear Him. All eventually are filled.
I don’t know where you’ve been or what you’re going through. I won’t promise believing in the Eucharist and spending time with Christ will make your pain go away. In fact, sometimes I wonder if my suffering has increased because of my belief.
What I will tell you is that the Eucharist is real.
Because the Eucharist is real, so is the strength, the healing, the peace, the calm, the love.
So few today understand this. They have lost the childlike wonder of possibility. They have lost the power to believe. The good news is that power comes back when you seek Wisdom and Love and pray, “Lord help my unbelief.” These are the prayers, far deeper than our superficial ones, that Jesus always answers affirmatively.
No false “remedies” need to fill holes when you understand what Jesus offers. You have the worth, the attention, the Love, the companionship, the Grace you need to rest in a Peace that surpasses all understanding.
Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist. He waits for you to stop by a Church for a few minutes on your way to work or after picking kids up from school. He is present in Adoration in midnight chapels across town waiting for your sleepless night. He is present Sacrificed on the altar at a Mass somewhere in the world right now. He is present in all the Tabernacles of the world, even unto the end of time.
He is present. Where are you? Are you present? Do you believe?
There is no other explanation for it. It’s simply a miracle, a God thing, and Jesus is there waiting for you to trudge up the hill to the well, lay down your jar, be honest, confess and repent, be Loved, and leave changed to tell the world.
He waits for you.
The story of the Samaritan woman is not about the woman. It is about God being physically present with you.
“This is my Body which will be given up for you.”
What will you give up for Him?
How about an hour just to meet Him at the well?
For Information on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, check out these resources…
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