Breath of the Spirit Reflection: Drinking From Our Wells
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March 7th, 2021: The Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 17: 3-7
Romans 5: 1-3, 5-8
John 4: 5-15, 19b-26, 40-42
Reflection from Ann Marie Szpakowska
O Living Water refresh my soul.
O Living Water refresh my soul.
Spirit of Joy, (God) of Creation,
Spirit of Hope, Spirit of Peace.
1) Spirit of God, 2) O set us free, 3) Come pray in us.
-Hymn, by Sr. Virginia Vissing, SSMN
The itinerant rabbi stopped and rested by Jacob’s well near the town of Sychar in Samaria. Jesus had sent disciples into town to buy food. Would they think of bringing a vessel to draw water? It was about noon. A woman approached Jesus carrying her water jar. How strange. Drawing water was done at dawn or dusk, long before or after the sun made the heat unbearable.
Social customs prohibited a man and woman not related by blood or marriage to converse. If that was not sufficient, Jesus was a Jew and she a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans had little respect for each other despite the fact that they shared much in common, even the first five books of their Scriptures (the Pentateuch) - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Samaritan Pentateuch was written in Aramaic, as opposed to Hebrew, and it differed in some places from the Jewish books. Still, they shared much of the same Scripture.
So the woman was startled when Jesus asked her for a drink of water. When she points out the obvious, that Jews and Samaritans dare not share the same utensils, Jesus counters “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked, and they would have given you living waters.” A lengthy theological dialogue arises between them, culminating with Jesus revealing to the woman that the one she is speaking to is the Messiah. This revelation propels the woman to leave her water jar behind and return to her community with the Good News. Her witness led them to hear for themselves and believe. In John 4:37-39, Jesus proclaims, “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink. Anyone who believes in me, as the scripture says, from their innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
In 1984, the English translation of Gustavo Gutierrez’s book, titled We Drink from our Own Wells, was published. It was a foundational work of Liberation Theology. Although Fr. Gutierrez gives credit to Bernard of Clairvaux for the title, we find in Proverbs 5:15 the admonition, “Drink water from your cistern and fresh (living) water from your own well.” Fr. Gutierrez tells us “to root spirituality in our own experience and sources.”
As LGBTQI Catholics and members of DignityUSA, we are committed to gender justice in Church and Society. We are called to listen to the evidence of our many faith journeys, offering hospitality to all on the margins. We are called to empower people to trust their own experience of love, and so to drink from the living water that the Divine Love has placed within them. Lifting our voices, even as we help others lift theirs, we minister particularly to those who have been othered. We take this rabbi, who is so radical as to treat a Samaritan woman as fully human, as our model. Importantly, we hold ourselves and each other accountable for our words and actions, because we know that liberation is won when we unlearn our own oppressive behaviors and struggle for everyone’s freedom. Only then will Isaiah’s prophetic utterance (68:11) become our reality, “With Joy you will draw water from the wells of Salvation.”
Ann Marie Szpakowska has been active and in leadership of Dignity/Buffalo for nearly 40 years. She also participates in the Women's Caucus and has been an active contributor to Liturgical planning for Dignity's Conventions, Conferences and on Feminist Liturgy Committees over many years. She has presented workshops both locally and at Dignity Conventions.
She has also been a member of St. Martin de Porres parish since 4 inner city churches merged and built a new sanctuary in 1993. St. Martin de Porres is a predominantly African American community in Buffalo, New York.