Hello Missionaries! I’ve been away too long, distracted with markets and my “day job”! Call it a self-imposed “social distancing”. Well, it’s time to end that. It’s time to get back into the fight. And even if conditions continue to prevent us from hitting the streets, it’s time to get back into the streets of the internet to evangelize. Which brings me to on our coming virtual Holy Week Mission, whose theme is “From Fear to Joy”, or said differently, “From Socially Distanced to Eternal Life.” And what better place to start than this week’s magnificent Sunday Mass reading of the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4:5-42), the story of how Christ converts a simple sinner, lost in darkness and fear, into a joyful missionary of light. This story was so important that John devoted nearly the entire 4th chapter of his gospel to it.
The Samaritan woman, like all of us, is struggling with her past mistakes. Married five times, living unmarried with her 5th lover, she’s lost all hope. Forced by fear and innuendo to travel the long distance to the well at the height of day—when by now the other women of the town would be safely gone from this daily errand and back at the hearth preparing the mid-day meal—she is as alone in the world as she is at this well. She is literally “socially distancing herself.” Jesus, having dismissed his apostles, arrives at the well just as she does. A chance meeting? Unlikely. She initially attempts to blow him off. (“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” John 4:9) He persists in his pursuit; she begins to open her heart to him. Gently, lovingly, he provokes a full confession out of her, and then offers a new hope, a new life—everlasting life in him, “living water.” And in a heartbeat, just like that, having experienced his mercy and love, she is converted from fearful, socially distanced sinner, to fearless, joyful missionary. Within days, she’s converted much of the town to Christ.
Now more than ever, we all have much fear in our lives. In the aftermath of the Covid 19 lockdowns, many of us are fearful for our families, our livelihoods, and even our very lives. Many of us have lost touch with the sacraments, literally locked out of church by either gubernatorial decree or our own fear of contracting the dreaded Covid-19 were we to venture there. And many of us have lost touch with Jesus, with the living water. It’s hard to be a missionary when we are cowered in fear in our basement offices, and venturing out to the well only when we can be safely “socially distant.”
So, missionaries, it’s time to regroup and rebuild. Watch this space in the remaining days of Lent, and by all means, set aside 7:30 to 8:30 pm on the first three days of Holy Week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) when we will be live on the internet with a special pre-Triduum retreat to prepare hearts and souls for the coming Holy Triduum services. Our theme this year is from “From Fear to Joy.”
Be Bold! Be Catholic! Be a Missionary! Be there.
March 7, 2021