Water Gushing Up
Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (Jn 4: 5-7)
Noon in the middle east is no time to be hauling water. Unless you are trying to avoid the crowd. The reason this lady is going for water at noon is likely to avoid meeting all the other women who draw water early in the morning or at evening. She is the one who’s been with five men…
The heat of shame is more unbearable than noonday’s heat.
Jesus doesn’t get into relationship counselling as the conversation comes to the essential question: “Where do you get the living water?” For those of us who have been in Christ all our lives, have prayed, worshiped for decades and can articulate our faith and minister to others we can sometimes wonder why we are so dry inside. Why do we still suffer from continuous feelings of worthlessness, doubt and guilt?
One of the powerful ways that we can keep the living water flowing in our lives is through self-forgiveness. We are very aware that we need to forgive others and that we need God’s forgiveness. But mostly we find it very hard to forgive ourselves. We tend to hold our sins against ourselves privately because we really should have done better, after all we know the truth.
The first stage of healing our shame is see it and then to feel it. Since we can’t heal what we are not willing to feel meeting ourselves as we are is humbling, a little like lowering our bucket down the sliver in the earth to the place where the mercy is always cool and fresh.
Self-forgiveness breaks the heat of shame, anxiety and wrath. And when our fever breaks, we are more able to find our way out of isolation and back to community.
It is very likely that self-forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual practices that we can do. And you are the only one who can do it for you. If you do, Divine Mercy flows through the channels you open within yourself and when you forgive others you don’t feel diminished. That’s what it means when Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will never be thirsty again.”
When people react negatively to the invitation to a vocation to religious life or priesthood its usually a knee jerk reaction to the perceived scarcity of celibacy, the burden of leadership or just not having control over your life. But there is no scarcity for those who drink “this water”. Practicing self-forgiveness allows us to taste our salvation, to experience the flow of God into our feverish lives and the joy of sharing that relief to others.
By Mark Blom, OMI
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.