Mark 1:14-45: The Mystery of Jesus – Fire and Water
Monday, August 24, 2015
Guercino: Jesus and the Woman at the Well
The Good News of Mark draws for us the lightning bolt experience of God’s visit amid us in the form of Jesus the Christ. He appears, pronounces, sets a model, calls, loves, exits, returns and abides, all in such a quick flash of time. Today’s Noontime allows us to reflect on the blaze of light which Jesus can bring to us if we only respond to his call as his first apostles and disciples did. We can also think about the image we heard in yesterday’s Gospel of John: Jesus arrives as a refreshing drink of cool, running water on an arid day. This water satisfies for a lifetime, not only for a hot afternoon. This running water of Jesus’ Word is not the warm water of the cistern with its temporary quenching. This Living Water lasts forever.
From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT reflection on the woman at the well reading from John is written by Fr. André Louf, O.C.S.P.: Everything speaks to Jesus; everything is a sign and a sacrament; all things sing of the glory and love of his Father: this water, this well, the thirst which both of them feel, this desire to drink, even the unbearable thirst of the Samaritan woman. It was a thirst she carried with her everywhere from man to man without being able to quench it, until she no longer knew who her true husband and what true love were . . .
Mark opens the window for us to see who and what Jesus is. Mystery. Light. Trust. Truth. Love. Fire. And water. Mark gives us a quick-moving, rapid-eye version of the passion that Jesus ignites in the world. We experience Jesus’ thirst for his people as he moves like a prairie fire through the towns and villages of Galilee: he calls, he cures, he heals, he cleanses. He is the Living Water that slacks deep thirst. And this is the picture which John paints in chapter 4 of his Good News.
The woman at the well in Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel also had a thirst for love, just as Jesus did; but she was dipping into the still water of the town’s cistern just as she was dipping into the lives of men without truly connecting, without pre-thought, without remorse for quick and superficial relationships. She perhaps was hoping to quench her desire for authentic companionship with her string of relationships. We will never know. But what we do know is that she finds something new when she encounters Christ. At first she diverts Jesus’ observations about the men in her life by moving to the topic of worship, but she cannot escape the truth. Jesus establishes trust, is patiently relentless, and once she lets him into her heart and her life – when she opens to his words – he changes her forever. She is never the same.
What are our thirsts? For what do we hunger? What worries might we allow Christ’s mystery and fire to consume? What anxieties grip us that might be stilled by the Living Water? What might we change?
Jesus is clearly calling each of us to work in his kingdom just as he called the apostles and the Samaritan woman. Perhaps we might also leave our empty water jar at the well and run to tell this Good News to all. Perhaps we might put aside our strings of temporary relationships and commitments. Perhaps we might set fire to the dryness of our lives as Mark does in the opening of his Good News story. And perhaps we might allow Jesus to both set us afire and quench our thirst for life and love. Perhaps in so doing we will enter into, and find union with, the mystery that is Jesus the Christ.
Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 24.2 (2008). Print.
Adapted from a reflection written February 25, 2008.
Tomorrow, listening for the voice.