By Fr. Patrizio SCIADINI OCD
During these days of your meeting you will listen to many papers that will help you at the level of pastoral care and learning in your mission near to the sick. This day of spirituality is not concerned so much with the doctrinal dimension as with applying ourselves to listening to the Word of God which provokes us to address today’s challenges and to implement the message of Jesus who came to heal the whole of the human person: the spirit, the heart and the body. Let us ask the Lord to send us his light for this meeting of listening to God who loves us. The simple methodology that I will use is the following: we will engage in five minutes of silent and loving personal reading of the text that is the subject of our meditation. This evening we will address the text of the Samaritan woman:
‘Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
(For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (The woman) said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
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?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the saviour of the world”’ (Jn 4:1-42).
THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AND THE SAMARITAN: HEART AND HANDS TOGETHER
I thank my brother and long-standing friend, Fr. Leo Pessini, a Camillian, and Sr. Zelia Andrighetti, a woman Camillian, my sister and long-standing friend, for their invitation to spend a day with the Camillian Charismatic Family and to engage in a meditation together on two icons of the New Testament: the Samaritan woman (Jn 4) and the Samaritan (Lk 10).
These two evangelical texts have always had a doctrinal-practical force in the life of the Church, both in pastoral care and in spirituality. One cannot read these evangelical texts without feeling that one is on a JOURNEY searching for the true water hidden at the bottom of the well or without searching for the suffering face of Jesus hidden in the SICK MAN of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The Gospel is not a ‘museum’ of paintings that are there to be admired; nor is it a ‘cemetery’ where we go to visit what has been. Instead, it is a ‘living garden’ where we contemplate and update our lives.
The Word of God must renew us, update us, in our lives and mission and in pastoral care, and at the same time we feel that we ourselves are engaged in a PERSONAL EXPERIENCE of the truth of the Word of God that is a two-edged sword…
‘Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help’ (Heb 4:12-16).
We cannot be disciples and missionaries of Jesus with spirituality and without works. The Gospel does not save us because we learn it by heart or because we achieve a fine and innovative exegesis but because it becomes our lives. The saints – as we are reminded by the post-synodal document in the Word of God, Domini Verbi – are the finest exegesis of the Gospel there is. Without doubt, the Camillian men and women saints, because their educator was St. Camillus, experienced the search for the living God at the well of Samaria, and for God suffering in brothers and sisters who ran into brigands and were left for dead at the side of the road of life.
I would like to cite Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church and a mystic, who in her highest contemplation does not listen to God who says to her – the Lord wants more prayers – but, instead, listens to what is said to her: THE LORD WANTS WORKS…
Works lead to prayer and prayer is the source of works. I believe that we can understand the words of Saint Camillus – more heart in those hands – as more prayer to have sensitivity in our hands to attend to the sick.