Monthly Archives: March 2020

Being Where We Are

exilesIn 587 BC the people of Judea were taken into exile by the Babylonians. The prophets, who had been berating them for their bad behavior, shifted to be agents of comfort and encouragement.  Isaiah did some really beautiful writing on this (see chapters 40-55, for example “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you [Isaiah 49-14-15]”), but today I want to point to a bit of Jeremiah.  “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruits. Take wives and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters. Increase there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the Lord, for upon its welfare your own depends (Jeremiah 29:4-7)”.

Jeremiah is talking to a people who were going into exile, and going to be there a long time.  There wasn’t a lot of hope that they would ever be a nation again, at least, not hope based on anything in the world. God was challenging them to embrace their situation and not give up but live to the full and be good residents.  They would not see the day they could return, but there would come a time that Israelites would come back and rebuild.  What was essential was that they not give up and not stop being who they were. They were called to be faithful to God in this foreign land, and do the best they can where they were at with what they had to work with.

One of the really hard things was they had no access to the temple, where they would be able to offer sacrifice.  We read in the Book of Daniel (in Catholic editions of the Bible): “For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, prophet or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were burnt offerings of rams and bulls, or tens of thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today to find favor with you; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy (Daniel 3:37-43).”

The book of Daniel as a whole is a good book to read to understand the challenge of being faithful in exile.  Some of the book is what we call apocalyptic writing, like the book of revelation.  It involves visions of strange beasts and lots of numbers.  It is usually written in times of terrible suffering, and seeks to reach beyond our intellect to give us a deep down sense that in the midst of the chaos, God is at work. “Apocalypse” is from the Greek for “removal of the veil” (as “revelation is from the Latin). To veiled eyes, it can look like life makes no sense and is going nowhere. To the clear eyes of faith, we see that God is at work.

There was a TV show called Firefly, and the theme song went: “Take my love, take my land, Take me where I cannot stand. I don’t care, I’m still free, You can’t take the sky from me. Take me out to the black, Tell them I ain’t comin back. Burn the land and boil the sea, You can’t take the sky from me.”

This is where we are called to serve God with all our hearts.  If we keep faith, nothing can take God from us. By God’s grace, we can echo the words of River from Firefly: “No power in the ‘verse can stop me.”



Today’s first reading is the story of Suzanna in Daniel 13. This is one of the stories that our Protestant brothers and sisters do not have in their Bibles but call it “apocrypha.” It is the story of a woman of courage and faith and a boy detective who used tree-mendous reasoning.  It teaches that what God knows about us is more important than what people think about us, and warns of being careful about believing everything we are told.


Dear Folks,

This week we read the story of Lazarus and we touch on the central mystery: Life

Our readings (Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45) talk about God bringing life where life is thought to be impossible.

Jesus came after everyone thought it was too late for Him to do anything.  I find that trials often go on longer than we thought reasonable, and we have a tendency to wonder why God doesn’t act sooner.  Jesus teaches us that the wait is part of something greater happening.

Jesus talks with Martha about Lazarus rising. Martha is thinking of the resurrection at the end. Jesus tell her that new life is now.  If Jesus is at work in us, we are already participating in new life. It is one thing to survive, to be biologically alive.  Jesus tells us there is something greater. Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus says something worth special note, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I come so that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”

Some people believe that Christianity is about living a diminished, constricted life that is all about Thou Shalt Not’s so that a harsh and judging God will reward us with heaven afterward.  No, no, no!  If that is what they learned they did not learn Christianity. Jesus gives us a more abundant life on earth, and if we accept that life, we are open to the abundant afterlife.  Christianity contends that a materialistic life, a life dedicated to power, pleasure, wealth and fame is a diminished life, and when God says no to something, it’s because that something would interfere with us finding that fullness of life. We read in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: “Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, ‘that all may be one…as we are one” (John 71:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason. For He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and in the union of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (Gaudium et Spes #24).”

The essence of the Gospel is the gift of self. The Lord gives Himself to us completely, not even withholding the last drop of His blood. He invites us and enables us to receive Him and give ourselves in return, not that He needs or even could benefit from the gift, but that we might have the fullness of life and joy (see John 17:13). Everything about Christianity, every aspect of our belief and practice, is about receiving that gift from Jesus and giving ourselves to Him in return. To do it, we must follow His teachings, but we cannot do it without His grace. It is for us to go deeper and deeper into life with Jesus so that we can live this more abundant life, and that will enable us to witness to others the wonder gift that Jesus brings. An abundant life is not dependent on our circumstances, but our openness to Jesus.  Let us live life to the full.


Fr. Jim


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Reflection March 28

Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

I’ve recently seen on Facebook, “I’ve been saying for years that I’ll get the house cleaned up when I have time.  Now, I see that wasn’t it.”  I’ve also seen, “Some will come out of this lock down wonderful cooks, and some will come out with a drinking problem.”  There is a sense that this time brings opportunity, but not a guarantee. I think that is spot on, and St. Paul would have applauded the insight.

Pope Francis in his urbi et orbi talk said, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.

We have been dealing with our coronavirus lockdown situation for a bit now, and we can take a moment to step back and look at what we have done.  Different people are in different situations. Some have had to spend more time and energy at work to deal with the practicalities of keeping society going and meeting people’s needs. Some are at home and getting cabin fever. Some are trying to help their families work together to cope with this reality.  Most of us have had some major changes in how we do things.

Whenever our lives change, there is an opportunity to form some new habits.  Just the fact that our usual routine is disrupted makes it easier to change some of the ways we have done things.  Unfortunately, I find that it is easier to form and harder to break bad habits than good ones, so when that opportunity arises, it is essential to be deliberate about what we are going to do.

I suggest we need to look at the problem on two levels, the most abstract and the most concrete.  In the abstract, what are the principles that are most important? What are the qualities that we most like to admire, that we would like to gain?  How would we like to be described?  What would we like people to say about us, and what would we like God to think of us? More importantly, what kind of person is God calling us to be? I have found, of course, that leaving it in the realm of ideas means nothing will really happen. We must also examine and strategize our most specific behaviors. What behaviors move us toward being the kind of person we are called to be? How have we been using this time?  What behaviors have we started?  What have we stopped?  Did we make grand plans and have them not work out?

I would suggest at this point, deciding a few small things to do differently could be powerful. The smaller and more consistent we are, the more we have something we can build on. What would we be glad to have done during this time? What habit will be helpful to us?  What will we be glad we have learned? What is God calling us to do at this point?

The best time to do this in now.

Receiving the Call, Giving Oneself


March 25

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
We find it in Luke 1:26-38 (Luke’s Christmas story is from Mary’s point of view; Matthew is from Joseph’s).
As we read the story, there are some points especially worth noting. When the greeting first comes, Mary is troubled and confused. How many times does God’s call first announce itself in a way that makes us troubled and confused?
Mary’s response is precious beyond gold, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
This took tremendous courage. She knew she was not yet living with Joseph, and everyone was going to think bad things about her and her life would be in danger. Also, she knew the stories of the Old Testament. Being called by God often leads to hardship. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many others had some very difficult paths. Mary responded in faith, and put herself at God’s service. By the second century, Mary was being referred to as the new Eve by fathers of the Church. They would say things like as the first Eve listened to a fallen anger and wrought our destruction, so the second Eve listened to a holy angel and opened the door for our salvation. We will also see contrasts between the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the Fruit of Mary’s womb. This points to how our saying yes to God can have much more significance in the big picture than it appears. Mary was a peasant girl from a family of no prominence in a tiny town that was not well thought of (“But Nathaniel said to him, ‘Could anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46).’” There was not a person in the world that looked at Mary and thought she would be remembered and celebrated for thousands of years.
Mary is always about Jesus, always, always, always. Whenever we are talking about Mary, we are pointing to Jesus. When the council of Ephesus in 431 defined Mary as the Mother of God, this was because a Heretic named Nestorius was attacking Catholic belief about Jesus. He taught that Jesus Christ was two people: the human Jesus and the divine Christ, and the Christ came into Jesus at the baptism, and skipped out just before the agony in the garden.
From the second to about the seventh centuries (or so) the big arguments in the Church were about the nature of the Trinity and about who and what is Jesus Christ. There were various heresies that tried to substitute Catholic belief about our Savior for inferior ideas. Arius said that Jesus was not God, but like a super angel. The Docetists said the He is God, but not actually human, just appearing to be human. Each of these ideas is trying to get away from the central point of Christianity, the point that makes it so powerful, so frightening, so beautiful, so amazing, so unique.
Remember how Mary put herself at risk saying yes to the Gospel delivered by the angel? This points to a much greater truth: The Lord Himself, with nothing to gain for Himself (already perfect and infinitely great) became a human being like us in all things but sin. He made Himself vulnerable to hunger, thirst, pain, loneliness, exhaustion, heat, cold, illness, rejection, ridicule, confusion, doubt, temptation, and all the other things that come from being human. He made himself vulnerable for us. He gave Himself completely as gift, paying the most terrible price, out of perfectly pure, unselfish love.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another (John 13:34).” He calls it a new commandment even though the command to love our neighbor as ourselves goes back to Leviticus: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18).” What is new is to love as Jesus loves, which is beyond anything that has happened before or since. Like the command to be perfect (Matthew 5: 48) it is a goal to which we are called to keep growing for the rest of our earthly lives. Let us never think that we have it mastered; let us never think we completely understand it. St. Paul compares discipleship with the training of an Olympic athlete (I Corinthians 9). Such athletes never say, “I’m good enough now; I can just coast.” Neither does a disciple of Jesus. Is there a more daunting challenge? We can consider that as we reflect on an obscure peasant girl in Nazareth getting the surprise of her life.

Our Super Power


March 24

I would like to share some more words from St. Paul:
“What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, no depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God In Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).”
“My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart from this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me when I come to you again (Philippians 1:20-26).”
St. Paul moved forward boldly in an uncertain and dangerous world. He was relentless. He did have some advantages. One, he was very smart, very, very smart. Two, he was a Roman citizen, and that gave him some advantages in the empire (we see this described in Acts of the Apostles). Many people had a lot more than that going for them, and didn’t do nearly as much. He had a confidence that was not based on himself. We see that he gets through a lot of really tense situations and survives with God’s protection. Of, course, he is eventually executed. It isn’t about how long our earthly life lasts, but how we serve the Kingdom while we are here.
We don’t have a lot of hard data on what it’s like in heaven, but I’m pretty sure there’s no one there saying, “OOOOOOOOOOH, I wish I’d lived longer on earth! I wish I’d been able to get to Disneyland!” I think whatever happened or did not happen here, we’ll be perfectly happy. We were made to love life, to seek to revere life, and to try to preserve life, but love the Kingdom more.
We read in the Book of Revelation “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night. They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them Rev 12: 10-12).”
This requires focusing on what is truly important. Again we see St. Paul: “Therefore we are not discouraged, rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 16-18).”
And also: “[B]ut he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardship, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).”
The more we grow in faith, the more we are focused on that which is eternal, and can appreciate and deal with the things of this world in their proper perspective. It is not that we are indifferent, in fact, we become more involved because we see the eternal significance of what we do in the moment. Our faith is imperfect, but the stronger it grows, the more powerful we become. We still get frustrated and upset, but we cannot be stopped. Our superpower is our relationship with Jesus Christ. We cannot be destroyed because we give our lives as gift. We do not have X-ray vision, but we look to that which is invisible and eternal.

Jesus Heals the Blind Man


March 22

Dear Folks,

This Sunday’s readings (1Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41) talk about light and darkness, seeing and not seeing, appearances and reality. We know that things are not always as they seem, but sometimes we have trouble considering what is beyond our sight. Louis Pasteur had a terrible hard time convincing people that there were tiny animals that they couldn’t see that were making them sick. There was a terrible struggle to get some surgeons to wash their hands before doing surgery. Now, a virus that we cannot see, and that only a tiny percentage of people have experienced, has turned our world upside down. Three weeks ago we did not see it coming.

This helps us look at things from a different angle. How many things do we not usually see because they are so easy to take for granted? One thing is how interdependent we are. Obviously, we depend on those who work in the healthcare profession, and we would be in bad shape without them. This has been a special hardship for them, and a hazard. This is a good time to remember how important they are. When many people are staying home, people who work in grocery stores are working harder than ever, cleaning the site and restocking shelves as fast as merchandise comes in. They can’t control who comes in, how clean patrons are, and often can’t prevent customers from violating their personal space. Someone said, “if grocery stores shut down, we will have to hunt for our own food. I don’t even know where Doritos live.” Speaking of merchandise coming in, we get a reminder how important truck drivers are. Anything that doesn’t grow right here has to be shipped in, and most of that is by truck. What would our lives be like if that stopped? Then there are those who make sure that water comes into our homes and sewage comes out, those who pick up the garbage. Those who clean places we expect to be clean. What extra challenges do law enforcement personnel have now? We can also think of those who are laid off and do not get a paycheck. We can also think of those who still have to go to work and have to deal with co-workers and others who do not take precautions seriously.

This is also a time in which we can reflect on how our actions affect others. Both of my parents worked in surgery, so I was raised with strong feelings about washing my hands and sanitation in general. I have found that many people have not been taking it seriously. Someone said that if we get good at taking proper precautions, we can have fewer people die during the flu season every year (the power of stewardship of our hands).

As we are unable to gather as a community, this calls us to greater focus on prayer as individuals and as families. When all this is over, I think it would be a great thing to get groups to be learning the Liturgy of the Hours. That is a good way for the Church to pray together even when we are apart.

If we get through this with a deeper prayer life and more attentiveness to each other, good things can come of this. There will be challenges to face, the results of what is happening now. There will be a need for some economic rebuilding for those whose income was interrupted but whose bills were not. We should remember that the church must continue to pay bills, and as we value the work that the church does, we want to consider what it takes to keep it going.

We remember that God is still in charge, and whatever happens, He is here, He is at work, and He loves to bring good things out of bad situations.


Fr. Jim

What Can we Control?


March 21

There are some things we can control and some things we can’t
The Letter of James has a good deal of practical advice. The current situation made me think of this tidbit:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit” – you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin (James 4:13-17).
In theory we know that there are a lot of things that happen that we can neither predict nor control, but it can be so easy to go through our day as if we could be sure of how things would be. It is so easy to forget that the things we take for granted can change in a heartbeat. Now we have a much stronger awareness that is true.
When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3),” we know that the poor are aware that they are constantly dependent on what they receive, that their own resources will not get them through the day, and how much they are not in control. Whether we have few material resources or many, we are called to be aware that we are not powerful enough to control the future, that we are constantly dependent on God, and that all things that are of the earth are subject to change without notice. No material thing is guaranteed to be here tomorrow. It is not guaranteed that civilization will be here tomorrow. It is not guaranteed that there will be tomorrow. Jesus said, “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, or at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom on his arrival find doing so (Matt 24:42-46).”
In C. S. Lewis’ excellent book The Screwtape Letters, he portrays letters from a senior devil to his nephew, giving advice on how to lead a soul to hell. Letter #6 begins: “I am delighted to hear that your patient’s age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be called up for military service. We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy [meaning God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our [the devils’] business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” While we want to prepare for possibilities, we don’t want to waste a lot of energy stewing over what might happen. When we are tempted to do that, it would be good to focus on what we can do, however little it is. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Christians are never completely helpless; if we can’t do anything else, we can pray.
Predictions are very slippery these days, so I suggest the key question is: “Right here, right now, with what I have to work with, how can I best serve God and witness to God?”

St. Paul speaks from prison


Reflections March 20
I would like to share with you some words from St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress (Philippians 4:4-14).
Consider: St. Paul wrote this in prison. As unpleasant as modern prisons are, then they were much worse. There was no air conditioning, nor screens. I’m not sure if the bathroom was a bucket, a trench, or a hole in the ground. It is a given there was no toilet paper (!). I don’t want to try to imagine the bugs and other vermin. Food would be iffy, especially if you didn’t have friends to bring you things. It is in the midst of this that St. Paul says to rejoice always.
His walk with Jesus was so strong that it was more important than all he was enduring. The fact that he was doing God’s work, the fact that this moment was an opportunity to encounter Christ overshadowed the weight of the circumstances. This is breath-taking. To be sure, St. Paul had his crabby days. The letter to the Galatians demonstrates that. Even then, his frustration is with the Galatians’ failure to stay with the truth of the Gospel, and not his own circumstances.
Notice also that rejoicing is immediately followed by how their kindness should be known to all. Rejoicing and being kind seem to be closely connected. It is certainly easier to be kind when we are rejoicing than when we are crabby. Just as “misery loves company,” surely it is true that joy wants to be shared.
This leads just as quickly to “the Lord is near.” His nearness gives us reason to rejoice, and a reminder that we shall be held accountable for how much kindness we share.
We are told not to be anxious about the future but give our requests to God by prayer and petition. Of course, He already knows what we want and what we need, even before we do, but we are encouraged to come to Him with petitions as a part of our relationship with Him. We remember that we are dependent on Him for everything. And we do it with thanksgiving, before we even know what the results will be. This requires a level of trust that says whatever happens, we believe He is at work for our good, and there will be cause to be grateful. The more we grow in that trust, the more we will have a peace that does not depend on what happens. We are encouraged to direct our minds toward many different kinds of good things. We often tend to dwell on bad things, so it can require deliberate intent to focus on good things. Think of the list of things to think about. True, honorable and just have a different feel than pure, lovely, and gracious. Perhaps one is left brain and one is right brain. He seems to be encouraging us to find good things to ponder for every aspect of ourselves. What would that be like for each of us?
Then St. Paul switches gears (sort of) and rejoices that the Philippians are helping him in his imprisonment. He emphasizes that he would be fine either way, once again that he is adaptable and can deal with good times and bad. He is glad because the Philippians are exercising the Gospel, and that is what matters to him, especially since he has taught them the faith. It is also a reminder that some people are dedicated to serving others and do not want to accept help from anyone. Sometimes God puts us in a position where we must, in humility be served, and rejoice in the goodness of others.
I suggest that reflecting on this text, bit by bit, for a while is a worthwhile exercise.
Fr. Jim

Now just for fun:

March 15: Woman at the Well

Thoughts for today
In our first reading (Exodus 17:3-7) the people are grumbling. The lack of water has put their lives in danger, and they feel helpless to do anything about it. They turn on Moses (it was no fun being Moses). The last line caught my eye, “The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord in our midst or not?’” “Massah” means “the place of test” and “Meribah” means “the place of strife/quarreling.” When hardship hits us, we are tested, and how we respond tells much. If we respond with quarreling and greater selfishness that says something about what kind of faith we had. If we respond with greater devotion and compassion that says something very different. Superficial faith is destroyed by hardship; deep faith is strengthened by hardship.
Psalm 95 reflects on this.
Our Gospel (John 4:5-42) Jesus meets the woman at the well. The encounter begins with a concern for a basic, everyday physical need, water. It very quickly becomes more than that.
She has had five husbands, and is now living with a man without even being married. What kind of relationships would those have been? Would they have involved a lot of caring, mutual respect, kindness? I tend to doubt it. I imagine her being quite emotionally needy, and ready to accept a toxic situation than none at all. Consider all the people in the world who have no access to clean, safe drinking water, and are forced to drink dirty, contaminated water. Jesus treated her with care and respect. How long might it have been since she had experienced that? When Jesus points out the reality to her, she accepts it. She then had to share.
When we are focused on day to day basic needs, there is an opportunity to encounter Christ. When we encounter Christ that helps us see ourselves more clearly. That gives us something to share.