An Encouraging Word 3-8-12

The well of satisfaction

Father J. Ronald Knott

Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst. John 4:14

So far this Lent Jesus has invited us to conversion of life by going to the desert for insight and to the mountain for perspective. This Sunday he invites us to go to his well for true satisfaction.

The prophet Haggai, about 520 years before Christ, described our culture quite well when he wrote, “You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and you have earned wages for a bag with holes in it.”

It has been suggested that our consumer culture has spawned a new climate of restlessness. The experts call it “churn,” using the word to describe our short attention span and “what’s next” attitude.
This restlessness is seen in the lust for endless distractions and amusements that consume us.

This restlessness is being fed, some believe, by the overstimulation and excessive exposure to violent movies, fast-paced videos, computers and cellphones, loud and hard-wired music, and over-scheduling. All these together exacerbate agitation, restlessness and hyperactivity.

What the world seems to be craving right now is what Jesus called “rest for your souls.” He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

In this Sunday’s gospel, the woman Jesus meets at the well is tired, tired to the bone. She is tired of being thirsty and having to carry water. She is tired of trying to find a satisfying relationship. She is tired of being rejected by others. At the well, she meets Jesus and pours out her heart to him, and he, in turn, gives her “living water” and “rest for her soul.”

All of us have a void in our lives. Some of us strive our whole lives to gain things, to gain stature, to get to the top of the ladder, to gain fame, to find the perfect relationship and much more, in a frantic effort to fill that void. The fact of the matter is we will never fill that void with “things” or “stuff,” because that void was put there for a specific purpose.

What is the purpose of that void? It is the place where God belongs! St. Augustine of Hippo described it best when he said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you!”

The best meditation for this third Sunday of Lent could be Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven:”

“I fled him, down the nights and down the days; I fled him, down the arches of the years; I fled him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from him.”

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