I'm going to admit that lately the overall tone of this place has me not wanting to visit, but I thought this homily (written by my H's friend) was too good not to share, especially given everyone's arguments as of late:
I. The disciples, the woman, Jesus
The disciples are such a piece of work. They return and, “are surprised to find Jesus talking to a woman.” Not only is Jesus talking to a woman, he is talking to a woman who has been married five times. Not only has she been married five times, but she is a Samaritain to boot. She is outcast, unclean, degenerate, not the sort of woman you would expect an upright religious leader like Jesus to be chatting with at a well. The disciples are surprised. They are surprised because they just don’t get it. Jesus has told them over and over again that he has come for the lost sheep, that the healthy don’t need a doctor and that the Scribes and Pharisees will be forgiven little because they have loved little. The poor disciples just do not get it. But I wonder if we, today, get it either? Like the disciples, are we, too, not seduced by glittering appearances, delighted with the trappings of power and seeking the places of honor at table? Do we get it, get what Jesus was trying to tell us?
II. The scandal of a lack of charity
The Church sometimes decides not to bury people because they were notorious sinners. What’s that all about? Since when did charity become a scandal, even toward the sinner? Even if the charity is not toward the deceased but only toward the surviving family members? In my view, the greater scandal and the greater sin is not charity but the lack of charity and for any reason whatsoever. There is a Dominican Brother I used to work with who said that too many priests see themselves as stock boys for the devil in hell, Indeed. It is not our job to send people to hell. It is our job to help people get to heaven. Notice Jesus in the Gospel today: there are a hundred reasons why he could have rejected the Samaritain woman. Jesus, plainly and simply, without condemning her, tells her the truth and the truth sets her free, not demanding and condemning and criticizing, just the truth The woman says that “Jesus told her everything she had ever done.” He did not yell, scream, condemn or castigate. He only told her the truth – gently, lovingly, simply – and that truth healed her and made her whole.
III. We are religious because we are not perfect
The disciples are surprised to find Jesus talking with this fallen, scandalous woman. Why? Because the disciples do not get it. They think that to be religious, you must be perfect. Idiotic! We are not religious because we are perfect. We are religious because we are not perfect. Of course Jesus is talking to this sort of woman because she needs him and she is ready to hear him.
IV. Two nuns, one student
In the second grade, I had a teacher who was one of the meanest woman God ever created. I will not mention her name, even though she is dead because I am still praying that God springs her from Purgatory. She taught penmanship. Those you who have seen my handwriting know that I, of all people, am truly grateful for the invention of the word processor. When I was in second grade, Sister saw me holding my pencil incorrectly and said, and I quote (I remember with pristine clarity all these many years later), “what’s the matter with you, that is the ugliest chicken scratch I have ever seen in my life.” To this day, I do not hold a pen or a pencil correctly. In the third grade, I met Sister Ruth, who was one of the dearest people I have ever known. I really loved Sister and, truth be told, had something of a school boy’s crush on her. I wanted to impress her, so, in writing class, I did everything I could to hide to hide my manual deformity from her. She saw anyway. She asked me to stay after class and said that I was a smart little boy and that she would help me to make sure that I could write decently and she did.. My second grade teacher yelled at me and called me stupid, I did not change one bit, I got worse. My third grade teacher told me I was smart and I would have learned to write with my feet for her. What does it teach us? It is simple, almost too simple: Jesus does not condemn and criticize the woman at the well because condemnation and criticism do not work. Jesus loves the woman at the well. Because love works. Jesus does not condemn the woman or even lecture her; Jesus respects her and loves her. We are supposed to change the world. But we are not supposed to do it by power and violence; we are supposed to do it by love and sacrifice – just as Jesus Christ did.