I think that most of us take for granted the water we use and drink on a daily basis. For us it is so easy and accessible, we only need to go to the next room to get it. How many of us remember that the human body is 55 to 60 percent water? Without water, a person is going to die. Lack of water is a real crisis in parts of the world today. The first reading relates a crisis among the Jews today. All of a sudden they regretted their freedom because they didn’t have any water. With Moses intervention, they received their water. A lesson here would be that sometimes a solution to one problem will create another. Faith requires a certain steadfastness and remaining true to a commitment.
The Gospel speaks of water today, most especially, “living water”. Living water is life-giving, thirst filling water refreshing body and soul. This life giving water Jesus speaks of is for the soul and for the giving of eternal life to all. All humanity seeks and looks for a fulfillment of their life and reason and understanding for living. Christ living water is God’s love coming and embracing women and men to come to an eternal life with God. The living waters of Baptism fills up the Spirit and forever slakes the thirst of the believer. Regardless of whether there was ever a Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus still gave us the living waters of Baptism and opened us up to a pathway to his Father. Taking stock of our faith and Baptism is a good way to prepare for our upcoming Easter celebration.
Today we are reminded in our readings about prayer and also about being witnesses or preachers of the Word. In a sense, both are difficult to talk about, as it seems today the world is caught up in a constant flow of information and endless streams of people’s thought and hopes and aspirations and these are not always means of a moment of prayer or a chance to witness. Yet, the electronic age is not the answer to the contentment of humanity. If anything it has created difficulties we never envisioned. For example, even in our enlightened age, we run into situations and times that are definitely beyond our control and apart from anything we can do. Illness, life-threatening diseases, even death are in our lives and our only feeling possible is really helplessness or the realization that there is nothing we can do. Really, is that so? How immersed in the times have we become that we forget our Faith. Is anyone of us immune from remembering that Jesus said ask the Father. Life is more than an endless stream of information. Life experience, contemplation, prayer in time of hopelessness and hardship is a normal and ready response. It is what our faith calls us to do. The stories of Moses and of the widow are meant to remind and show us that God hears the prayers of his people, and he cares. Prayer is meant to be a normal thing, a daily thing, a communication with our unseen God who in many ways touches and moves us through life with a helpful guidance leading us to him. Prayer is many faceted and done in many ways, in the silence of our heart, with others, in private, in public, but always in some way God hears and we need to be open to him.
Also in our life of faith we are called to witness to the Word, to Jesus’ teachings throughout his time on earth and through his church which has remained to carry on his message. His Body and Blood present to all of us and our food for eternity is here for all of us to strengthen us and help us to continue to witness and preach his word both in our lives and at times even in our speech and conversations with others. Whatever we do for others, to witness or to just extend what is a show of love and concern is to share the word of Jesus.
This call, this witness we give is often just being who we are. Are we following Jesus, are we being faithful to his word, to his example, to the actual call he has made to all of us? Faith calls us to give witness at all times because we believe.
The story of Martha and Mary in Luke is an interesting story that probably was written in early church times when discussion of women’s place in the church was a big issue. In that first century, society was very male dominated and the women were kept separate and even worshiped separated from the men. They were in many ways seen as property and servants. We know that among the early Christians the women had an equal voice in the assembly and taught and had ministries. Even Paul taught equality in his writings until a later insertion was added that women should be silent.
The complaints of Martha would seem to highlight and underline the traditional role and function of women to serve and prepare for the men. Mary remains at Jesus’ feet and listens to his teaching with the men. This from the gospels was not uncommon for among the people following Jesus many were women. The whole story points to the inclusion of women in listening and sharing ministry rather than the later concept of a contemplative life versus an active life being taken from the story. In fact, Jesus did both in His time when He took time out to pray and meditate and also had a very active ministry. Martha, while probably hard pressed in her preparing to serve the many guests in her house, was I think a symbol of a beginning of a hierarchy and compartmentalization of roles which are still present today in many ways.
I am thankful that in recent times our church has come to see the reality of Church guided by the Spirit with a ministry and membership enabling all to serve in whatever capacity that God calls them to serve according to their talents and abilities and not their gender. In fact, we are one body all called to be united in Jesus Christ and love and serve one another. All are called to follow and did he not say that in his kingdom there is neither male or female? Do we not all receive the same Spirit? It is ironic that we forget that the Spirit leads and nourishes. He prepares and makes us ready. Our world and cultures have taken so long to come to an understanding of so many things especially of the role of women. However the promptings have always been there, only now has the listening begun. Like Mary we all are chosen to listen, but also like Martha, we are called to also serve.