(Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Romans 5:1-2,5-8; John 4:5-42)
Letting Jesus Set Us Free Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Give me a drink (John 4:7).
Today’s Gospel gives us a glimpse into the power of God’s mercy and love. When Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well, he brings up her past: She has had five husbands and is now living with another man out of wedlock. But he doesn’t bring this up to condemn her or make her feel guilty. Rather, he uses this intimate knowledge about her private life to reveal himself to her
Jesus wants to prove to this woman that he is not just a Jew (John 4:9), not just a great man like Jacob (4:12), not even just a prophet (4:19). He is the Messiah and Savior of the world (4:29,42)! He wants to show her that nothing she has done could prevent him from offering her his living water.
What a beautiful image of the Sacrament of Reconciliation! This woman comes to Jesus not even knowing how burdened, thirsty, and alone she is, but she leaves excited, fulfilled, and surrounded by fellow believers. She knows that her sins are forgiven and her guilt removed. She has tasted the living water of his mercy, and her life is transformed! Going even further, she doesn’t keep this good news to herself. She goes back to her village and invites her neighbors to come meet Jesus for themselves
This is what Confession is all about. It’s about coming to Jesus and letting him set us free. It’s about letting Jesus gently probe us and bring our sins into the light so that they can be washed away. It’s about experiencing a mercy that goes far beyond our expectations and being so transformed by it that we want to share it with everyone around us.
Brothers, we all need the grace of Reconciliation. We all need to meet Jesus and his limitless mercy. So no matter how serious your sin—whether it be adultery, abortion, or even murder—know that Jesus is waiting for you by the well, ready to give you living water. There truly is no unpardonable offense!
“Jesus, I need your living water. Come and fill me with your mercy!”
Questions for Reflection
1. In the Mass readings, we hear a lot about thirsting and quenching our thirst with living waters. In the first reading, the people’s response to thirst was grumbling against God and Moses. What is your heart like when faced with difficulties? Do you have a complaining and blaming spirit? How do you think God wants you to respond when facing trials? What steps can you take to cause this to happen?
2. In the responsorial psalm, we are instructed not to harden our hearts and not to put God to the test. What are some of the circumstances that can cause you to harden your heart and not turn to the Lord in expectant faith? What practical steps can you take to help thaw such a hardened heart?
3. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us the love of God has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. Specifically, at Mass you have an opportunity, through the Eucharist and prayer, to have the very life and love of God “poured” into you hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can you better prepare yourself to receive such a gift?
4. In the second reading, we are also given the example of Christ’s love for us who died and forgave us while we were still sinners. Is there someone or some relationship you are holding hostage until the other person takes the first step? What actions can you take to be the first to reach out with the gift of forgiveness? It is a gift none of us deserves.
5. In the Gospel, we return to the metaphor of water. Jesus promised living water to the woman, and she ran to the townspeople so that they too could share in the life of God. What can you do this week to bring others to Jesus, the fountain of life? Can you identify one person in your family, neighborhood, or at work that you can reach out to this week with the love of Christ? Are you willing to do it?
6. The meditation speaks of the Sacrament of Reconciliation with these words: “It’s about coming to Jesus and letting him set us free. It’s about letting Jesus gently probe us and bring our sins into the light so that they can be washed away. It’s about experiencing a mercy that goes far beyond our expectations and being so transformed by it that we want to share it with everyone around us.” Has this always been your experience with this Sacrament? Why or why not? What steps can you take to strengthen your experience of the graces of this Sacrament?
7. If you are in a men’s group, at the end of your meeting pray for one another to receive a deeper infilling of the living water of the Holy Spirit. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point. Share any fruits of this prayer at your next meeting.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)