I have learned some about writing better homilies, I hope, but I love the metaphor of the Ministry of the Giant Meatball. So here it is:
I was sitting at my computer one afternoon and an e-mail came into my inbox from my friend Rev. Harry about the upcoming Dismas Fellowship meeting. The Dismas Fellowship is a group of volunteers and ex-prisoner’s that meets in a church basement every other Friday to share a meal, friendship and our stories.
This e-mail announced the guest speaker for the evening but that is not what caught my eye. Before this announcement Harry let it be known that we would be having Carol’s giant meatballs that evening.
Now you may be asking what the big deal about meatballs is – but then you have probably never tasted Carol’s meatballs. They have become a thing of legend around the Dismas fellowship and the smiles on the faces of the men and woman, who rarely get treated to homemade cooking, are very real anytime they are served.
So what in the world do Carol’s meatball’s have to do with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well?
Good question- Let me try to connect them.
Jean Vanier is well known as the soft spoken spiritual leader who established the L’Arche and Faith and Light communities. He has written a wonderful book called “Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John.” (I will post some reflections from this book over the coming weeks.)
Vanier shares his thoughts on the encounter between Christ and the woman at the well this way – he writes:
“I find it very moving how Jesus meets and welcomes this fragile and broken woman. He knows the depth of her broken self-image. He does not judge or condemn her. He does condescend or give moral lessons. He approaches her like a tired and thirsty beggar, asking her to do something for him – “woman – give me a drink”
Today’s gospel is a story of trust. We are all broken at some level. It is part of our human nature. Jesus came to be with us for these times – the moments we feel most unloved and unworthy.
Vanier concludes that “We are all this Samaritan woman. We are all wounded in some way in love and have a history of broken relationships. Many of us hide our difficulties in relationships, behind cleverness and power. We crave admiration and do not want to recognize our vulnerability…
WE CAN BECOME IMPRISONED IN THE CHAOS OF SADNESS, ANGER AND EVEN HATE.”
Much like the Samaritan woman we may try hard to put on a mask that covers up our fears and hurts, we may go about our daily lives working hard to keep up appearances but inside we know something is wrong. We have been hurt by someone or we have caused hurt. We may have judged others to be unworthy and/or perhaps we are the one who has been judged by others.
In the gospel the Samaritan woman – a sinner and outcast – says to Jesus “I know the Messiah is coming.”
Jesus looks at her and says, “I AM HE”
Vanier shares that “Jesus does not reveal this to anyone else in the gospel… and that she is transformed in love. “
A key lesson of this gospel story is that in Jesus’ eyes we are all worthy and loved. If we ask, he will reveal himself to us regardless of our faults and sins and if we empty our hearts we can be transformed by his love. It is this love that is the living water.
A second lesson in today’s story is the call of Jesus for each of us to go and share this love with others.
We now return to the modern day story of the giant meatballs. They were prepared by a person who has her own story. I can’t tell you if she has had this moment at the well yet with Jesus but I am sure she carries with her many doubts about life and her own self worth – we all do.
What I can tell you is that though the sharing of her talent- cooking giant meatballs – she makes a difference in the lives of those at that Dismas Fellowship. It is not her words but her actions that touch the ones many considerable to be untouchable.
In the time that remains in Lent I encourage you to visit the well and sit a while with Jesus. Tell him your deepest fears and regrets. Give up the “CHAOS OF SADNESS, ANGER AND EVEN HATE.”
It would hard to imagine anything you could give up for Lent that would have more impact on your life and the lives of others. When we empty ourselves of SADNESS, ANGER AND Hate we make room to drink from the living water.
For example take a moment, read the insert in the bulletin today and ask yourself – can I share a gift of a sandwich or friendship with another family in their time of need by getting involved with the Hope ministry.
Can a sandwich or a giant meatball change the world – No but it will change the life of the one who prepares it and gives it away freely and it might bring some small joy into the life of another in their time of need.
This Lent we are free to choose to follow the lead of the Samaritan woman and ask Jesus to “Give me those waters that I may not thirst.”