If You But Knew the Gift of God

“Christ and the Woman of Samaria” (detail) by Paolo Veronese

How do you get to know someone better?

When my Dad first became interested in my Mom, he learned where she lived and then went to her home hoping to visit with her. However, my grandmother was not too keen on his attempt to get closer to her and chased him away with a broom!  He didn’t give up though, and hoping to see her, he went to her yard and hid behind a tree until she came out.

Jesus’ first disciples went about it more diplomatically.  When they saw Jesus pass by, they simply followed behind Him.  Jesus, turning back, asked them what they were seeking.  Taken by surprise they asked Him where He lived.  His response was immediate! “Come and see.”  They tagged along with Him and then spent the rest of the day with Him (John 1:38-39).  Spending time contemplating Jesus is praying!

Jesus does not encounter someone by accident.  He has been waiting for the opportune time to reveal Himself to us but also to reveal us to ourselves as well. As we contemplate Jesus and enter into dialogue with Him, we are drawn into deeper prayer.

But Jesus also has the unnerving habit of encountering us when and where we least expect it.  Remember Zacchaeus?  He thought he could observe Jesus on his own terms. He ran ahead and climbed up a tree concealing himself in its foliage. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately!  I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:4-5).  How’s that for planning ahead?

If you want to read the longest conversation in Scripture that Jesus had with an individual, then re-read the encounter with the woman at the well. This conversation, not only took place with a woman, but a woman who was a Samaritan, coming from a mixed people.  These were the remnants of the ten tribes of Israel in the North with the five nations brought in by the Assyrians centuries before and now unrecognized and hated by the Jews.

This unnamed Samaritan woman approached the well as she customarily did to draw water.  She chose that time of day since she was an outcast among her own people.  In this way she avoided the village women who would come during the cooler hours of the day to socialize as they drew water for their families.

It must have startled her to find a Jewish man sitting by the well. She would not have greeted him since women did not speak to other men unless their husbands were present.  But Jesus broke the tension of the situation and the customary rules when He made a request to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)

Certainly Jesus was thirsty, and He wanted a drink. But even more than that, He was waiting for this encounter, just as He had waited for the encounter with Zacchaeus. Jesus knew the troubled waters of her soul and used this opportunity to engage her in conversation in order to reveal Himself to her as Savior and reveal her to herself.

Her curiosity was piqued when Jesus offered her “living water” to quench her spiritual thirst.

“If you knew the gift of God!”
The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water:
There, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink.
Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us.
Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.
God thirsts that we may thirst for him.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church #2560)

Gently reaching her heart, He revealed to her that He was fully aware of her moral situation and that He was the longed-for Messiah.  He brought her around full circle to the reality of her encounter with Him.  In her relief and excitement she forgot her jug of water and ran to spread the “good news” to her townspeople.

The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live,
according to the Semitic or Biblical expression,
the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.”
The heart is our hidden center,
beyond the grasp of our reason and of others;
only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully.
The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives.
It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death.
It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation:
it is the place of covenant.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church #2563)

Jesus seeks to encounter us in our own dwelling place – the heart.  There He engages us in dialogue – prayer.  There He offers us the Gift of Living Water – a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Are you allowing Jesus to reveal you to yourself so that He can heal you?
Let Him into your heart!

Mother Luisita reminds us, “Between Jesus and the soul there flows a current no one can see and a dialogue that no one hears”.  She teaches us how to have Him always within us: “Form a rich and beautiful tabernacle within your heart and then do not let Him go.”

Sister Mary Colombière, O.C.D.

To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, read their biography below and visit their website.

We encourage you to support the work of the sisters with your prayers and through donations and planned giving. Click here to learn more..

If you hear God calling you to the religious life, I encourage you to visit their vocations page. – Deacon Mike

Or for more information, please contact:
Sister Maria Goretti, O.C.D.
920 East Alhambra Road
Alhambra, California 91801

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Promoting a Deeper Spiritual Life Among Families through Healthcare, Education and Retreats

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles strive to give striking witness as a vibrant, thriving community of dedicated women with an all-consuming mission. It is our God-given mission, a mission of the heart, a mission of loving service to the poor, the sick, the needy and the uneducated. Our loving service overflows from each sister’s profound life of prayer. We strive to reflect His life and hope and His promise to all that light has come into our world and darkness has not overcome it.

A look at the history of our community, with its motherhouse in Alhambra, California, reveals how its life-giving presence has come about. During the beginning decades of the 1900s just as the epic Mexican revolution was subsiding, a ruthless religious persecution was gaining momentum in Mexico. This horrible persecution accompanied the birth and humble beginnings of our community, a legacy that Mother Luisita, our foundress, and her two companions brought with them as religious refugees entering the Unites States in 1927.

Those seeds planted by Mother Luisita, now a candidate for sainthood, have taken deep root in the United States since those early days. People and places have changed throughout the years, yet the heart of our mission remains. As an autonomous religious institute since 1983 we continue to carry out our loving service in our healthcare facilities, retreat houses and schools which remain to this day centers of life and hope. Today we are moving forward together “Educating for Life with the Mind and Heart of Christ” in schools, being “At the Service of the Family for Life” through health and eldercare and “Fostering a Deeper Spiritual Life” through individual and group retreats. At the heart of our vocation is a passionate mission of loving service which facilitates our life-giving encounter with the living God.

The heritage of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the spirituality of Carmel, the Gospels, the Church, with our particular charism derived from our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its roots in a long history and living tradition. The spirituality of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross is rooted in this tradition. Carmel means enclosed garden in which God Himself dwells. The divine indwelling in the soul is the foundation of Teresa's doctrine. Thus our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service to the Church.

Our ideal finds a living expression in the life and charism of our beloved Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whose spirit we faithfully preserve and foster.

Our life is characterized by: - A life of prayer and union with God - A deep love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist - Devotion to our Blessed Mother - Steadfast fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church - Praying for priests - Commitment to works of the apostolate in ecclesial service

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