We have heard for ourselves

November 11, 2013

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am taking the good news today from John 4:39-42.

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

It was the woman’s personal experience of Jesus that led her to tell others in town about this prophet she met at Jacob’s well. She was in awe of Jesus’ ability to see her for herself and to accept her as she was. She had to share that profound experience with others because it was different from any encounter, any relationship, she had ever had. That made others curious; they had to meet this man themselves. When they did, they wanted more of him. They invited him to stay, to remain with them to feed their spiritual hunger, their hunger for God’s love and compassion. As they listened to Jesus themselves, they knew that they had encountered the savior of the world. God’s love and compassion saves the world.

Saturday I went to Topeka to hear retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong speak. It was the same kind of experience that the Samaritans had. I wanted him to talk and talk and talk. I wanted him to stay and continue to feed my spirit. HIs knowledge of the word of God, his ability to see the truth, and his articulation of the gospel message strummed the yearnings of my heart to know God more deeply and to experience him. That’s the role of people like the Samaritan woman and Bishop Spong: to inflame the desire to know God more deeply, to know Jesus as the savior of the world by his revelation of God’s love and compassion.

Then it’s up to me to continue to fan those flames of desire, to return again and again to the scriptures and prayer and reflection to know God more deeply. It is good to listen to and read others, but I have to go to the source of God’s word to deepen my belief that Jesus is truly the savior of the world. As Moloney writes in The Gospel of John, “There is only one revealing logos and it comes from Jesus.” As Fr. Mike Scully tells us, “You have to read the gospels every day.” He’s right because it changes one’s life just as it did for the Samaritans of Sychar.



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