Friday, December 21, 2012

The Woman at the Well

"Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
But then I heard my Savior speaking:
"Draw from the well that never shall run dry".

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more--
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!"
Wanda Jackson

I am that woman, thirsty and seeking, but the irony is that the well -- the fount of every blessing -- is here within my reach  and always has been.  And yet, I'm too stubborn to dip my cup in and fill it.

Today's Old Testament reading was about the immense love and longing my Savior has for me.  For me!  He is there, waiting for me as the bridegroom waits for the bride.  Father Jonathan reminded us that God's love for us is evermore than our love for him -- so very much more.  He longs for us. 

And yet, so very often, I sit by the well dying of thirst and refusing to lift up my cup.  Lift it up!  Raise your arms! Here He waits.

Like the adulterous woman, I lie at his feet, bereft, broken, unworthy.  "Rise up," he says, "Has no one condemned thee?  Neither do I condemn thee.  Go and sin no more."

I can have my hunger satisfied and my thirst slaked.  Only a fool sits at the well and thirsts.  Drink up!  Live, love, serve!  I have but this one life.  What will I make of me?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why I Confess

I'm not a theologian.  I'm just a woman striving to live my life in such a way that I am more often than not a force for good.  Nonetheless, as a Catholic, I do have to think about these things at least a little.

It seems to me that in Matthew 9 when Jesus forgives the paralytic, the crowd recognizes that human beings (as Jesus was in a human form) have the power to forgive sins.  [Of course, in the Gospel of John (chapter 20), the risen Christ explicitly empowers the Disciples with the responsibility to forgive sins (or to not forgive them).] This recognition by the witnesses sets the foundation for the Rite of Reconciliation. The precedent was set.

I so value the rite.  I think there is great richness in sitting before another human and saying aloud the ways in which I have fallen short.  It re-humanizes me.  I need that opportunity to examine my own shortcomings; I am so quick to see them in others.

The added value then, is absolution.  Without it, it would still be a valuable exercise --has not many a person confessed her sins to her friend?--but the true value is the priest's role.

I confess. My confidant then carefully considers and weighs my transgressions as an  un-involved arbitrator.  He then counsels me to right recourse; this too is of immense value.  Someone -- a wise and compassionate someone -- has carefully considered my sin and has offered advice as to appropriate next steps. (It is a rare and precious friend who can do the same.) Then, standing in for Jesus, so as a to offer me a human face, my confessor absolves me of my sin and offers the opportunity to accept the full forgiveness of God. What a rare and amazing gift this is!  The whole process works together to invite me forward as a new creation.  And once I have done my penance and made my recompense, that is how I go emerge.

Is it possible to go forth as a new creation without confession and reconciliation?  Perhaps . . . but this process was so beautifully crafted as to make the transformation as streamlined and as simple as possible.  I love it.  I thought, prior to conversion, that it was an unnecessary act.  I did not believe I needed that "intermediary."  Now after years of experience, I can see that I get a big benefit form not only the process itself, but also from the "forced" necessity of the rite. As with so many things in life that I do not want to do, what began for me as a necessary (and somewhat dreaded) act --a requirement of my conversion--has become a gift.

Someday I will be able to go to confession more often, but for now I relish my quarterly act and look forward to my next opportunity. Advent is a season of preparation.  As I am in the act of creation, Reconciliation has a major role to play and I am very grateful for the privilege.

Happy Advent.

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