“But whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
God’s mercy defies animosity and rivalry between people
On the third Sunday of Lent, we hear the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well.
She is a Samaritan, a woman, and we learn as their conversation continues, an outcast because of her “many husbands” – three strikes that make her one of the last people the disciples would expect to be speaking with Jesus. And yet, Jesus reveals himself to her as the Messiah.
The woman’s life is changed – she becomes a disciple. Her community is changed – many come to follow Jesus because of her evangelism. And the disciples are changed – they learn that God’s mercy is without limits.
Nora Arsenian Carmi, a Palestinian Christian with Armenian roots, shared her experience of mercy healing animosity at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome in 2016. Born in Jerusalem a few months before the establishment of Israel, she became a refugee in her own city. She has been a staff member of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center since 1993.
“My Armenian roots and my 69 years of Palestinian experience, have brought me to a strong conviction, that the Armenian Genocide, the Palestinian Nakba ‘catastrophe’ that made me a refugee, and the ongoing Israeli occupation and terrible injustice cannot be ‘just’ or be part of God’s ‘plans’ for those created in His image.
“The Nakba brought new dispossession and more suffering but without grudge or hatred, my family continued to serve all the communities with equity and Christian love. I inherited that legacy of not reacting to evil with evil.
“Concerted efforts of advocacy, political negotiations and rare implementation of international laws and decisions have still not yielded the aspired liberation of the cradle of three monotheistic religions proclaiming justice, peace, and reconciliation.
“However, this is the only way forward! We have learned the positive power of ‘not resisting with death but rather through respect of life.’ The Kairos document of 2009 clearly states ‘True Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.’
“Nonviolence is not a tactic but a way that emphasizes the concept and sanctity of life. Not only does it resist all forms of evil with methods of love, but it also draws upon all energies to make peace … Lives are thus saved and protected from the ravages of wars and both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice are liberated.”
Questions for Reflection
When have you received love and solidarity in a moment of need?
In what ways can you offer mercy to someone this Lent?
All-nourishing God, your children cry for help against the violence of or world: Where children starve for bread and feed on weapons; starve for vision and feed on drugs; starve for love and feed on videos; starve for peace and die murdered in our streets.
Creator God, timeless preserver of resources, forgive us for the gifts that we have wasted.
Renew for us what seems beyond redemption; call order and beauty to emerge again from chaos.
Convert our destructive power into creative services; help us to heal the woundedness of our world.
Liberating God, release us from the demons of violence.
Free us today from the disguised demon of deterrence that puts guns by our pillows and missiles in our skies.
Free us from all demons that blind and blunt our spirits; cleanse us from all justifications for violence and war; open our narrowed hearts to the suffering and the poor.
Abiding God, loving renewer of the human spirit, unfold our violent fists into peaceful hands; stretch our sense of family to include our neighbors; stretch our sense of neighbor to include our enemies until our response to you finally respects and embraces all creation as precious sacraments of our presence.
Hear the prayer of all your starving children. Amen.
-“Prayer for a New Society,” Pax Christi USA
Take time to learn more about the Nakba. https://imeu.org/article/faq-on-the-nakba-the-nakba-and-palestinian-refugees-today
Place a photo and quote in your prayer space of a peacemaker named by Pope Francis in his World Day of Peace message: Mahatma Gandhi or Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in India, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the U.S., Leymah Gbowee in Liberia, Saint Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or Saint Therese of Lisieux. Make him or her the focus of your prayer this week.
Learn more about Kairos Palestine, a Christian Palestinian movement, by reading and sharing their Easter Alert, a prayer and reflection guide from Easter to Pentecost. http://www.kairospalestine.ps/index.php/resources/christmas-alerts/148-kairos-easter-alert-2016
A Maryknoll Missioner says…
“I feel inspired, especially when I see the dedication to the living Word of God on the part of the women’s groups, the catechists, communion ministers and delegates of the Word, because they put into practice in their own way what Jesus taught and because of their thirst to learn more about their Catholic faith and share it with others. I walk this path of God with the people in a land far from my own just to be with them and share with them the joys and sorrows of daily life, learning and growing together in what it means to be the people of God.”
–SISTER BARBARA NOLAND, Maryknoll Sisters, Guatemala
Sister Barbara directs the Women’s Pastoral in San Andrés and other villages in Guatemala where the majority of men have migrated to the U.S. It is a program of monthly workshops to promote awareness of the equality of women and men; and to promote the formation and personal development of women, which is basic to a woman’s mission to her family and to her participation in community and Christian life.