thoughts shared from sunday…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righhteousness, they shall be filled.
Hungry, tired, thirsty, Jesus sits alone by a well. He is approached by a woman no one has time for, no one respects, no one values, a woman who never looks at her face for longin the mirror of public opinion.
That much we know from telling the time. She comes to the well at mid-day when the sun is hottest. Nobody chose the hottest part of the day for the tiresome job of fetching water – unless they want to be alone.
Jesus is at the well. And he is thirsty. Thirsty for more than water. That’s why he does something nobody else in her entire village would have done. He asks her for something.
He treats her like she’s there, like she is a person, and not just a walking object lesson in shame. He respects her by asking for something: a drink of water.
In a 1st century world of tightly patrolled boundaries between men and women, Sarmatians and Jews, sinners and the so called holy – don’t miss how shocking this is. Not least to the woman: “You ask me for a drink?”
Jesus is laying aside his maleness
He is laying aside his Jewishness
He is laying aside the right to condemn
He is laying aside everything that gets in the way of allowing a meeting to take place and a conversation to happen. A conversation that she’s quickly drawn into, drinking in his acceptance of her. So much so that she can hear the truth about herself without feeling ashamed: because it’s not spoken as an accusation against her but just for what it is, the truth.
We can’t move on unless we are honest about our contradictions and treasured deceptions, honest about the wounds we never asked for or deserved and have tried to badly bandage over.
The disciples return at the end of the conversation. Their presence is awkward at the scene and drives the woman away. She doesn’t run back to the old way of being herself, doesn’t run behind the shadow of whoever she’s living with, but runs to the village and the doors of people she was trying to avoid:
“Come and see a man who told me everything I did…Could he be the Messiah?”
Jesus brought her out of hiding, beyond just getting by, beyond the same old same old. She is in touch with what it feels like to be treated as a person again. Jesus has fed the hunger she had in her heart.
Everybody has a hungry heart…Bruce Springsteen
What do you hunger for? I mean really hunger after? Human beings have hungers so deep we can’t be separated from them:
We hunger to be known
Hunger to be loved for who we are
Hunger to be respected and valued
Hunger to be forgiven
We hunger to really matter to someone.
The disciples say to Jesus at the well: “You need to eat something“. And he says:” I have bread you don’t know about.” Something inside Jesus is nourished by helping to restore a life that was cut off, by bringing back someone cast out, by helping something flourish and grow in the trampled heart of a nameless woman no one wanted to know – a woman with the same hungers in her heart as all those who shunned her.
Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The beatitude recognises how the deepest hungers in our own heart for love, for friendship, to be valued and respected can’t be separated from the same hunger in our neighbours heart, hunger for the very same things. I can’t flourish if I don’t care about our neighbour. And who is my neighbour?
It is whoever stands before us.
Working for the well-being of our neighbour is what feeds our humanity and if we don’t seek that something inside us will starve. This is the bread Jesus says his father has given him that the disciples don’t know anything about.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after their neighbours well-being – for they shall be filled. Those who hang around Jesus grow hungry for more than their own flourishing, they begin to hunger for the wholeness of the whole world.
In feeding others we are fed. Our deepest hungers can’t be separated from our neighbour’s hungry heart.
I am thirsty Jesus said to her at the well.
I was thinking where else in John’s gospel do we read about Jesus’s thirsting? Where else are we told by Jesus he’s thirsty…
On the cross.
Abandoned and rejected, unfairly condemned, pinned like a piece of butcher meat on two bits of Roman wood, Jesus cries out: I thirst….
…Thirst with the burden of every life trampled into the ground…thirst with the wound of every person discarded and abused…I thirst to bring the whole human family that is violent, dysfunctional, vain and lost
Into the love that will heal
Into the love that will feed
The hungers in our hearts that nothing else can fill.
On the cross God tells us he is thirsty for us.
Thirsty to make us whole. Thirsty to bring our restlessness into his rest. Thirsty to forgive whatever gets in the way of our being being welcomed.
The church is blessed whenever the hunger and thirst of Christ lives inside us
a hunger that is filled as whoever stands before us
sees something of their own worth reflected in our eyes.