I am a member of a community that meets weekly. We have a common interest that has united and given each of us a sense of purpose to want to gather once a week. We have a specific mission to reach out to Catholics who are away from faith but are contemplating a return to Church. We have sustained this for almost 8 years, not bad in this secularised age. The setting up of this community was inspired by today’s Gospel story: the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
“Give me a drink”. We realised that a regular gathering to dwell into the spiritual is helpful when daily demands tire us. The secular can quickly take us away from a faith life leaving us in a desert of spiritual dryness unable to connect with the reality of Christ in our daily life. This community was set up to be like Jacob’s well where we gather to quench our thirst.
Deep in everyone is a thirst; when manifested it is a search for the existence of the divine in our personal life. Our community remains privileged to witness this thirst in the returning Catholics who come to gather at our well. We, returning Catholics often have a misplaced sense of unworthiness leading us to feel like an outcast just as the Samaritan woman was.
We dwell at the well of our gathering just to exchange our stories of our week; talking about what’s been happening to us. Together we search for the reality of Christ in the reality of our daily life. Alone our secular life will lead us into a spin that will leave us with a giddiness that disorientate us from the central presence of Christ. This central presence gradually reveals himself through the story of our life just as Jesus did in the life story of the Samaritan woman.
Beneath the brave front we sometimes mask ourselves with, the fact is our worldly challenges can leave us tired and doubtful. Or it could glitter like false gold and we drift away from faith in search of it. Coming together weekly we remind ourselves that only He will give us living water; “anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again”. It will “turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life”.
“Give me some of that water”. A community cannot be sustained if it becomes more of a social gathering. It must embody a specific mission. The life of a community is sustained by the flow of living water which must not stagnate; the inward freely-given flow increases with the number of outlets. Our community’s outlet is our mission reaching out to ‘away’ Catholics who search for this living water to drink.
“Come and see” so that these returning Catholics may believe from the strength of our testimonies that will eventually lead them to ”we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world”.
The gathering at the well will continue to grow in numbers provided we ourselves first come to drink and then draw from the well to give to others this living water. It is true that Jesus had no bucket. We are his buckets.
“Look around you, look at the fields: already they are white, ready for the harvest!”
Third Sunday of Lent