The Third Sunday of Lent ~ the Warning of the Fig Tree

The Third Sunday of Lent ( Year C) ~ The Warning of the Fig Tree

Before we begin, there are two liturgical texts for this and the following two Sundays.  An alternate set from Year A is often used when Catechumens are present.  But these are the prescribed texts for the day from the Gospel of St. Luke.

I must say that I found the first part of today’s gospel obscure. However, I can salvage this much: There’s a line in the first section about two catastrophes ~ incidents that are unknown to us, but then Jesus goes on to warn his hearers that if they did not repent they too would perish. What did he mean?

Jesus was warning them of what he foresaw and foretold: the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 70 (cf. Lk. 21:21-24). He knew, sadly, that if they went on with their intrigues, their rebellions, their plottings, and their political ambitions, they were going to commit national suicide. He knew Rome would obliterate the nation, and that’s what happened.

And there is a warning for us today. For years I’ve been imploring my readers to pray personal transformation for the sake of the transformation of our nation. And in the present atmosphere of our country, looking ahead to the next election, again such prayer, and Jesus’ warning is quite apropos, as is the second part of today’s gospel—the parable of the fig tree . . . .

Barclay offers us several things to learn about this famous parable that I hadn’t realized before.

First, the fig tree occupied a specially favored position. It was not unusual to see fig trees, thorn trees and apple trees in the same vineyards. The soil was so shallow and poor that trees were grown wherever there was soil to grow them but the fig tree had its chance, and had not proved worthy of it.

Very often, Jesus reminded people, and by implication in this parable, that they would be judged according to the opportunities they had.

Second, the parable teaches that uselessness invites disaster. The whole process of evolution in this world is to produce useful things, and that what is useful will go on, while what is useless will be eliminated. The most searching question any of us can ask is—“Of what use were we in this world?”

During this Lent, it might be well to take stock of the opportunities that you’ve had in life and how you responded to them. As I approach the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the ordination to my priesthood this May, I am beginning to look back over those fifty years with a little trepidation.

Third, the parable teaches that nothing that only takes, survives. The fig tree was drawing strength and sustenance from the soil; and in return was producing nothing. That, Barclay says, was precisely its sin. There are two kinds of people in the world—those who take out more than they put in, and those who put in more than they take out. We’ve inherited a Christian civilization and the great freedoms of this land. It’s our responsibility to hand them on to the generations to come, perhaps better than we found them. As for me, I am grateful for the opportunities for education my parents and my bishops have provided me, and the gifts God has given me to serve him and his people.

Fourth, the parable tells us of the gospel of the second chance. A fig tree, our scripture scholar tells us from his research, normally takes three years to reach maturity. If it doesn’t bear fruit by that time, it’s not likely to bear fruit at all. But this fig tree was given a second chance. In our sinfulness, it’s hard for us to realize the true depth and nature of our sin. This Lent is a good time to make a thoughtful review of our life and create a clean heart. Won’t you make a good confession before Easter?

It’s Jesus’ way to give us chance after chance after chance. Peter and Paul would gladly witness to that. God is forever kind to those who fall and rise again.

And that perhaps is the most important meaning for us to receive from this parable today, God never gives up on us! He will never give up on you! Ever! Ever, Ever! God doesn’t abandon us; it is we who abandon him. And that perhaps may be our sin. That we think that we aren’t any good. That we’re not worth it. But that’s really a sin of pride, isn’t it?

Fifth, the gospel makes it quite clear there’s a final chance. If we refuse chance after chance, if God’s appeal and challenge come again and again without us even turning towards him, the day finally comes, not when God has shut us out, but we by deliberate choice we refuse his grace and turn our back on him definitively.

But even in that, there may be something psychological that is operative in that person that would diminish that person’s guilt, and save him in spite of himself.

Awake, O sleeper, rise from death,

And Christ will give you light,

So learn his love ~ his length and breadth

It’s fullness, depth and height 

For he descended here to bring

From sin and fears release

To give the Spirit’s unity

Which is the bond of peace. 

For us Christ lived, for us he died

And conquered in the strife. 

Awake, arise, go forth in faith,

      And Christ shall give you life!  

And now here’s a Lenten hymn for you, “Beyond the Days of Hope and Mystery.” Click here

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

William Barclay the New Daily Study Bible the Gospel of Luke / Westminster John Knox Press / Louisville, KY  1975-pp. 204-9.

The Cleansing of the Temple ~ Cleanse us too, O Lord!

The Third Sunday of Lent March 4, 2018

Once again, I rely heavily on our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay for his insights for today’s reflections. First of all, he notes that John after the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he and his friends returned for a short visit to Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, and shortly after that he set out for Jerusalem to observe the Passover feast.

This, Barclay observes, is interesting in that John’s chronology of the life of Jesus is quite different from the other three gospels. In the others, Jesus is depicted as going to Jerusalem only once—the Passover feast in which he was crucified, the only visit to the holy city other than the one when he was a boy. But in John, Jesus makes frequent trips to Jerusalem, including three for Passover. Barclay notes there’s no real contradiction here—only different points of view.

Today’s Gospel story is about Jesus’ Cleansing the Temple. It could not have happened twice. He angered the Temple authorities so much that they had a warrant for his arrest. And this story is only in Chapter two of John’s gospel. Barclay notes that John is more interested in truth than in facts; he’s not writing a chronological biography of Jesus. He’s thinking back to the great prophecies of the coming of the Messiah: “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to the temple. For he is like the refiner’s fire, and the fuller’s soap . . . , and he will purify the sons of Levi. . . .till they present a right offering to the Lord.

Right at the beginning he shows us Jesus acting as God’s Messiah must act. And he did. His anger is a terrifying thing. He formed a scourge out of cords and moved through those selling oxen and sheep and doves and the -money-changers sitting at their tables and drove them all out of temple and said, “Take these away and stop making my Father’s house a house of trade.”

The Passover was the greatest of all Jewish feasts. The law stated that every adult male who lived within fifteen miles of the holy city must attend. Now here are some facts that shaped Jesus’ anger. Astonishingly, it’s likely 2.25 million Jews sometimes assembled in Jerusalem in those days for Passover. And there was a tax that every Jew over 19 must pay—the Temple tax. It was one half shekel. At that time, the value of a half shekel was about 6 cents. It was the equivalent of almost two days of working man’s wages. In Palestine all kinds of currency were valid—from Greece and Egypt and Tyre and Sidon and Palestine. But the Temple tax had to be paid The Jewish shekels; the foreign coins were considered unclean; they could be used to pay ordinary debts, but not debts to God.

So in the Temple courts sat the money-changers. If there trade had been straight forward, they would have been fulfilling an honest and necessary purpose. But they charged to change the money and they charged get their change. The poor pilgrims couldn’t win. The wealth that accrued from the Temple tax and from this and from this method of money-changing was—well—beyond belief.

It was estimated that the annual profit was about $100,00 for the Temple. And Barclay says that when Crasus captured Jerusalem in 54 B.C. he took from it $3,400,000 without coming near exhausting it.

What enraged Jesus was that pilgrims to the Passover who could ill afford it, were being fleeced at an exorbitant rate by the money-changers. It was a rampant and shameless social injustice—and what was worse it was being done in the name of religion.

Besides the money-changers, there were sellers of oxen and sheep and doves. Many pilgrims wanted to make a thank offering. Victims for the sacrifice could be bought in the temple court. But no. The law was that the animal had to be unblemished and, therefore, the Temple authorities set up appointed inspectors (muncheh) to examine the victims that were to be offered. The fee was 1 cent. If the worshipper bought the animal outside the Temple, of course, it would be rejected. A pair of doves would cost about 4 cents outside but 75 cents inside. Here again, was bare-faced extortion of the poor and humble pilgrims who, as Barclay says, were practically blackmailed into buying their victims in the Temple booths. It was that which moved Jesus into flaming anger. St. Jerome thinks that the very sight of Jesus made the whip unnecessary. A certain fiery and starry light shone from his eyes and the majesty of the Godhead gleamed in his face.

Now, Barclay suggests there are at least three reasons why Jesus acted as he did..

First, God’s house—his Father’s house, as he said in John’s gospel—was being desecrated. In the Temple, there was worship without reverence. Worship without reverence can be a terrible thing.

When I attend Mass once in a while I’ll find a priest who rushes through the Eucharistic Prayer in a distracted fashion—the most solemn part of the Mass, or who doesn’t say the words of Consecration reverently. I ache inside for the priest, for myself and for the people who are not being edified.

Second, Jesus acted as he did to show that animal sacrifice and all that went into it was completely irrelevant. For centuries the prophets were saying exactly that. “Bring no more vain offerings” (Isaiah 1:11). “They love sacrifices; they sacrifice flesh and eat it; but the Lord has no delight in them.” (Hosea 8:2:12-16).

Third. The Temple authorities were making the Court of the Gentiles into an uproar and a rabble where no man can pray. The lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the sheep, the cooing of the doves, the shouts of the hucksters, the rattle of the coins, the voices raised in bargaining disputes—all these combined to make the Court of the Gentiles a place where no one could worship. The conduct in the Temple court shut out the seeking Gentile from the presence of God. It may well be that this was most on Jesus’ mind. Jesus was moved to the depths of his heart because seeking pilgrims were being shut out from the presence of God. “Mark has Jesus say: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers  Mark 11:17).     

Bishop Robert Barron in a reflection in the Magnificat liturgical magazine for today’s gospel has this to say . . . .

The most fundamental vocation of human beings is to give God right praise. In this act of adoration we become rightly ordered in ourselves. Accordingly sin is the suspension of right praise., a turning of the heart toward creatures rather than the Creator, which results in the disintegration of self and of society. All of the institutions of Israel—law, covenant, prophecy and Temple—were intended to bring the nation back in line to make Israel a priestly people.

Hence, the corruption of the Temple represented much more than simply an issue of social or institutional injustice. It was the compromising of the identity of Israel. Jesus comes to restore God’s holy people to right praise—and to turn inside out and upside down all forms of false worship. Thus, as you contemplate the image of Jesus cleansing the Temple, ask yourself the following question, “Precisely what or whom do I worship?” 

As I conclude this reflection, I am reminded that St. Paul has told us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).  And so, I’ve added to our title, Cleanse us too, O Lord!  Bishop Barron suggested that we ask ourselves what or whom we worship?   In America today we have all kinds of idols besides the Creator and we treat our bodies as anything as the temple of the Holy Spirit that they are. 

So here is my prayer . . . .  

Jesus, I wonder what your disciples thought when they witnessed your blazing anger.

Some even today say it’s so out of character for you. 

Would that you would come into our world today and throw out those who hurt the poor! 

But I know that’s up to us to do, right?

But at least help me to form “right praise” and cast out the sin in my life.

Yes. Jesus, this is one more instance of  “the Jesus I know and love.”  

(Ya know, I never thought about your anger before.) 

And before you go, here’s a Lenten hymn for you.Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. This is a song by John Michael Talbot

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

William Barclay / the Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of John – volume 1 revised edition /                                                                       The Westminster Press / Philadelphia 1975 /pp. 107 – 114.

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman ~ are you thirsty too?

The Third Sunday of Lent (March 19, 2017)

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1st) The Woman at the Well, (2nd) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3rd)  The Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history has asked John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This Sunday’s gospel has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory.

Here are a few notes from Scripture scholar William Barclay once again.Jesus was on his way to Galilee in the north of Palestine from Judaea in the south.  But he had to pass through Samaria, unless he took the long way across the Jordan River Jacob’s well stands at the fork of the road in Samaria, one branch going northeast, the other going west. This place has many memories for Jews as Jacob bought this ground and bequeathed it to Joseph  who had his bones brought back here for burial. The well itself is more than 100 feet deep. You also need to know the Jews and Samaritans had a feud that had lasted for centuries.  

William Barclay tells us that this story shows us so much about the character of Jesus.

~ It shows us his real humanity. He was weary from the journey and he sat by the side of the well exhausted.  

~ I shows us the warmth of his sympathy.  From an ordinary religious leader, from one of the orthodox church leaders of the day the Samaritan woman would have fled in embarrassment. She at last had met someone who was not a critic but a friend; it seemed the most natural thing in the world for her to talk with him.  

~ It shows that Jesus is the breaker down of barriers. The quarrel between the Jews and the Samaritans was an old, old story, going back to 720 B.C. when the Assyrians that invaded the northern kingdom and captured it. The Samaritans lost their racial purity and therefore lost their right to be called Jews.  

~ And there is still another way Jesus was taking down barriers.  The Samaritan was a woman. The strict Rabbis forbade Rabbis to greet a woman in public, not even their own wife or daughter. And not only that, she was also a woman of notorious character. No decent man, let alone a Rabbi, would have been seen in her company, or even exchanging a word with her, and yet Jesus entered into conversation with her.

And now here’s my telling of the story .  .  .  .

 Jesus and his buddies came to the well and his buddies went off to the nearby town of Sychar. The hour’s about noon and Jesus is weary, hot, dusty, sweaty (I presume) and thirsty.

He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans as I said. Two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink; as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax into his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31-year-old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her ~ on the inside.

The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. Jesus says she has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not receive from a priest or their family or a community when they needed it the most.

One of the new “Mysteries of Light” of the Rosary  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point, I realized that I must learn how to proclaim (share ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town ~ one person at a time.

I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because we priests and bishops often do not match our words with the lives we lead or because we use harsh and condemning words that push people away and singe their souls instead of drawing them close. Pope Francis is showing us that too.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst,) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. I’ve learned that — the only legitimate way, in my eyes — is to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect and in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep yelling at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

We have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we be with people’s where they hurt and need, without judging; to cry with them and hug them instead of yelling at them or talking over them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different from mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

I look at Pope Francis and am in awe of this holy man at eighty years old with his youthful vigor and eternal smile and his mercy upon mercy upon mercy. Oh! How I wish I could serve again like that. I pray that in some small way that it would be so.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him; and he and his buddies stayed for two days.  

And there you have it, dear friends. This is the Jesus I know and love.  And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental loving

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet and care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!  

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters Click here.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

And here are all of the Mass readings that accompany this story, that is with catechumens or candidates for the sacraments of Initiation present,  Click here.

If you go to a Mass that uses the regular readings for which is the Feast of St Joseph. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay: the Gospel of John – Volume 1 Revised Edition pp. 146 – 151.  / The Daily Study Bible Series                                                                   The Westminster Press – Philadelphia 1975

The warning of the barren tree

barren-fig-treeThe Third Sunday of Lent ~ February 28th, 2016

The Barren Fig Tree

. . . . But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.” (Luke 13:5-9)

A popular symbol for Israel (Hosea, Micah and Jeremiah), the fig tree and the care it required were often used as an analogy for the care and love God showered upon the chosen people.

Usually a fig tree was expected to produce fruit within three years of its planting. If it proved to be unproductive, it was uprooted to make room for new seedling.

Notice, however, that in Jesus’ parable the vinedresser gave the barren fig tree the gift of another year as well as the benefit of additional care (hoeing, fertilizing.)

No doubt, Jesus intended his listeners to remember the many, many overtures of love and the many, many opportunities for reform and renewal that had been offered to God’s people through the centuries. Sadly, many of these overtures and opportunities went unheeded; sinners remained unrepentant and unproductive. Nevertheless, in Jesus, and through his words and works, God offered the ultimate overture of love; therefore those who refused to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them in Jesus would, like the barren fig tree, find themselves cut down and replaced by another.

We need to understand that God doesn’t fool around with us. The intent of this parable is directed toward you and me. We are to be fruitful in our living and our loving. If we are not fruitful, we will become subject to God’s discipline.

William Barclay makes several points about this parable . . . .

(1) The fig tree occupied a specially favored place in the vineyard. It was not unusual for apple trees or fig trees to be in vineyards taking up rich soil.  Jesus was reminding people ~ and us ~ that they ~ we ~ would be judge by their and our opportunities.

(2) The parable teaches that uselessness invites disaster. The most searching question we can be asked is: “Of what use were we in the world?”

(3) Further, the parable teaches that nothing that only takes will survive. The fig tree was drawing strength and sustenance from the soil; and in return was producing nothing. That was precisely its sin.

Many years ago, at the beginning of my priestly ministry, I remember that I was asked to give a talk on sin to a group of religion teachers. I made a short list of sin. I still use that list today. I believe that sin can be reduced to a refusal OF love, a refusal TO love, a refusal to grow and a refusal to give thanks.

For example, in your marriage are you refusing the love of your spouse, are you refusing TO love your spouse, are you refusing to attend to the areas of growth that are needed in your marriage?

Barclay’s fourth point is that the parable is the gospel of second chances ~ or in this Jubilee Year of Mercy ~ the Gospel of Mercy. This fig tree was given a second chance. And God always gives second and third and fourth and many more chances!

(5)  But the parable makes it quite clear that there is a final chance.  If we refuse chance after chance after chance, if God’s appeal comes again and again in vain, the day finally comes, not when God has shut us out, but we by deliberate choice have shut ourselves out.

Jesus was warning his hearers of the destruction to come to Jerusalem in the first part of this passage.

So this is kind of tough stuff, dear readers. The season of Lent each year is given to us to attend to our growth – to REFLECT, REPENT AND RENEW.

The season of Lent is a time to reflect on our life to see what areas of our life need attending to. We look to see how we are doing, to see where there is need for some pruning or perhaps some freshening up ~ some renewing.

There are other Scripture passages that talk about the growth of the soul using the analogy of a tree. Note this beautiful one ~ Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who does not walk

in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

nor sit in company with scoffers.

Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy.

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted near streams of water,

that yields its fruit in season;

Its leaves never wither;

whatever he does prospers.

What this psalm makes clear is that growth of the human soul ~ the human person comes when you and I have sunk our roots into the well of God’s grace.  So that we have easy access to God’s strength and help ~the Living Waters Jesus give us.

This, of course, is what prayer is about. We need to pray daily to build up a reservoir of God’s grace.

If our well is dry, when difficult times come, we won’t have easy access to God. We will need to build our reservoir once again.

Again, Lent is a time to do that. Through our acts of returning to God, through our penance and prayer, the well will fill again. We will have a full reservoir in dry and difficult times.

So, let us attend to our growth, the growth of our soul, the growth of our whole person.

In the first reading of today’s Mass we have the familiar story of Moses and the burning bush. God instructs the young Moses to remove his sandals before approaching because it is holy ground. And God reveals to Moses his name: YAHWEH ~ I AM WHO AM ~ a story in full contrast to the Gospel parable.

And so, our Lenten season moves on toward Easter, enriching us with hope and promise, if we heed the warning of the barren fig tree. Now, before you go, here’s a beautiful hymn for you with a slide show. Click here.

And here are all of today’s Mass readings, including the first part of today’s Gospel. Click here.

Further, if you attend a Mass with Catechumens or candidates for initiation into the Church at Easter, you may hear the readings from Cycle A proclaimed with the Gospel of John’s story of the woman at the well. Click here for an archive of “A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman.

Acknowledgement: William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Luke /                                                                                       Westminster John Knox Press / Louisville KY 1975 – 2001 /pages 207-8.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman

one of the hundreds of Florida’s cool / clear springs

The Third Sunday of Lent (March 8, 2015)

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1st) The Woman at the Well, (2nd) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3rd)  The Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history has asked John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This Sunday’s gospel has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory.

Why not take a moment to read the entire fascinating story?   (JOHN 4:1-42)  To get back to this page, on the top of your computer screen, click on the < arrow pointing to the left. and it’ll bring you right back here.

Here are a few notes from Scripture scholar William Barclay once again.Jesus was on his way to Galilee in the north of Palestine from Judaea in the south.  But he had to pass through Samaria, unless he took the long way across the Jordan River Jacob’s well stands at the fork of the road in Samaria, one branch going northeast, the other going west. This place has many memories for Jews as Jacob bought this ground and bequeathed it to Joseph  who had his bones brought back here for burial. The well itself is more than 100 feet deep. You also need to know the Jews and Samaritans had a feud that had lasted for centuries.  

Jesus and his buddies came to the well and his buddies went off to the nearby town of Sychar. The hour’s about noon and Jesus is weary, hot, dusty, sweaty (I presume) and thirsty.

He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans as I said. Two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink; as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax into his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31 year old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her ~ on the inside.

The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. Jesus says she has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not receive from a priest or their family or a community when they needed it the most.

One of the new “Mysteries of Light” of the Rosary  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point, I realized that I must learn how to proclaim (share ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town ~ one person at a time.

I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because we priests and bishops often do not match our words with the lives we lead or because we use harsh and condemning words that push people away and cauterize their souls instead of drawing them close. Pope Francis is showing us that too.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst,) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. Now that’s the way — the only legitimate way, in my eyes — to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect, in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep yelling at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

We have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we get down with people’s hurt and need, without judging; to cry with them and hug them instead of yelling at them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different from mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him; and he and his buddies stayed for two days.

Now THAT, dear friends, is the Jesus I know and love.  And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental love

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet and care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!  

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters Click here.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

And here are all of the Mass readings that accompany this story. Click here.

If you go to a Mass that uses Year “B” readings, Click here for those.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay: the Gospel of John – Volume 1 Revised Edition  / The Daily Study Bible Series                                                                                   The Westminster Press – Philadelphia 1975

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman

one of the hundreds of Florida’s cool / clear springs

The Third Sunday of Lent (March 23, 2014)

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1st) The Woman at the Well, (2nd) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3rd)  The Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history has asked John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This Sunday’s gospel has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory.

Why not take a moment to read the entire fascinating story?   (JOHN 4:1-42)  To get back to this page, on the top of your computer screen, click on the < arrow pointing to the left. and it’ll bring you right back here.

Jesus was on his way to Galilee in the north of Palestine from Judaea in the south.  But he had to pass through Samaria. You need to know the Jews and Samaritans had a feud that had lasted for centuries.  

Jesus and his buddies came to a town called Sychar. The hour’s about noon and Jesus is tired, hot, dusty, sweaty (I presume) and thirsty.

He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans as I said. Two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink; as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax into his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31 year old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her ~ on the inside.

The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. Jesus says she has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not receive from a priest or their family or a community when they needed it the most.

One of the new “Mysteries of Light” of the Rosary  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point, I realized that I must learn how to proclaim (share ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town ~ one person at a time.

I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because we priests and bishops often do not match our words with the lives we lead or because we use harsh and condemning words that push people away and cauterize their souls instead of drawing them close. Pope Francis is showing us that too.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst,) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. Now that’s the way — the only legitimate way, in my eyes — to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect, in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep yelling at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

We have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we get down with people’s hurt and need, without judging; to cry with them and hug them instead of yelling at them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different from mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him and he and his buddies stayed for two days.

Now THAT, dear friends, is the Jesus I know and love.  And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental love

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet and care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters Click here.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman

one of the hundreds of Florida’s cool / clear springs

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1st) The Woman at the Well, (2nd) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3rd)  The Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history asks  John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This Sunday’s gospel (March 3rd, 2013) has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory.

Why not take a moment to read the entire fascinating story?   (JOHN 4:1-42)  To get back to this page, on the top of your computer screen, click on the < arrow pointing to the left. and it’ll bring you right back here.

The hour’s about noon and he’s tired, hot, dusty, sweaty (I presume) and thirsty.

He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans. Two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink; as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax into his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31 year old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her ~ on the inside.

The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. Jesus says she has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not receive from a priest or their family or a community when they needed it the most.

One of the new “Mysteries of Light”  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point, I realized that I must learn how to proclaim (share ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town —  one person at a time.

I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because we priests and bishops often do not match our words with the lives we lead or because we use harsh and condemning words that push people away and cauterize their souls instead of drawing them close.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. Now that’s the way — the only legitimate way, in my eyes — to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect, in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep yelling at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

I am fiercely pro-life; I don’t even want to kill the ants on my kitchen counter.  And we have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we get down with people’s hurt and need, without judging; to cry with them and hug them instead of yelling at them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different than mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him and he and his buddies stayed for two days.

Now THAT, dear friends, is the Jesus I know and love.  And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental love

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet and care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer