Love, Forgiveness, and Paco

March 19, 2017

 There is a story from Spain of a father and son who had become estranged. After a heated argument the son ran away. The father set off to search for him. He searched for months but to no avail, he was not able to find his son. Finally, out of desperation, the father put an ad in the Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven, I love you. Your Father.”

On Saturday at noon, the father went down to the newspaper office and found 800 Pacos, all looking for love and forgiveness from their fathers.

During the exodus from Egypt, the people become thirsty and threaten to rebel against Moses, even to the point of questioning whether God is even with them.

Their question betrays their true thirst, it is a thirst for God, His attention, His love.

The people did not perceive God in their midst, only their thirst. Sometimes we do not recognize what we are really thirsting for, and seek to slake it in the wrong way. That is the path to a hardened heart that no longer hears the voice of God speaking to us.

There are so many people in the world thirsting for love and forgiveness. During this season of Lent we recall the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. The heart of the Samaritan woman had become hardened by her experience and frustration. Hers was a thirst that only God could satisfy.

What can we deduce from scripture about the woman at the well? Quite a lot actually. We are told that it was about noon when she approached the well. Most women would have drawn their water in the cool of the morning or evening, not during the hottest part of the day. Was she trying to avoid the other women of the town?

Her history of troubled relationships, including her present one, leads us to see her as an outcast, a social scandal.

Perhaps Our Lord saw in her one who was seeking meaning in her life, a meaning she had not found in a string of failed relationships. And so He puts aside His own weariness and reaches out to her as He reaches out to each one of us.

The Samaritan woman has a thirst for real love but Jesus also has a real thirst for our faith and our love. He comes to meet us where we are in all our loneliness and longing.

Saint Paul reminds us that our true thirst goes beyond seeking the fulfillment of our material needs. At our baptism the Holy Spirit pours God's love into our hearts. This is the living water Jesus speaks of when He tells the woman that whoever drinks of it will never thirst again.

When we are filled with the love of God, we are completely satisfied, we are at peace.

There are a great many people searching for love and forgiveness but few of them realize that what they are truly thirsting for is the love of God.

Jesus touches the troubled heart of the Samaritan woman and reveals to her all that she has been searching for without understanding. She is so overcome with joy that she leaves behind her water pitcher and runs to share the Good News with the very people she had been avoiding.

All too often, the journey we are on makes too tired to reach out to others. We feel too exhausted, too imperfect, and too wounded to be of any good to others. But Jesus invites us to rearrange our priorities.

As Christians, as followers of Christ, our first priority is the mission Christ gave us before He ascended to the Father, to baptize, to teach, and to evangelize. To evangelize means to share the Good News that Christ has saved us, to share it with everyone we meet, regardless of how tired we are. The Good News has all the love, forgiveness, hope, and joy that we could ever ask for. We should be eager to share it with the world.

We all have a natural desire to find joy and happiness in this life. But our own efforts can only take us so far. To find true meaning and purpose we must always come back to God for only through Him is our purpose revealed.

Who do we know that we can reach out to and share the Good News of Salvation?

Pax vobiscum

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