Thought of the week
In July I will have been a Deacon for 50 years. The evening before that ordination, Bishop Derek Worlock, acknowledging that I would be able to preach for the first time, gave me this warning: “Remember always to preach Jesus Christ, not Nicholas France.”
Over the years it’s been a good reminder to me that I’m only the messenger, not the message. In addition, I have usually tried to speak about ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ in whatever guidance I have offered in my homilies.
I was reminded of all this in the story in this Sunday’s Gospel about the woman who meets Jesus by a well. It’s an amazing encounter, as she is both a woman and a foreigner, someone a pious Jew would not normally have spoken to, especially as the apostles weren’t around to chaperone him.
Sitting by the well, Jesus reveals his insight about her many husbands and her current live-in partner. The well makes it easier for Jesus to speak about water as symbolising the fullness of life that he was offering her. She had approached him with her empty bucket, symbolising the emptiness in her life. For us it is also easy to see this well as representing the font of baptism.
The story ends with the woman leaving the water jar behind, just as the apostles had left their fishing nets behind, in order to run and tell others about this amazing man she has met, who could look into her very soul. The locals return with her, but after meeting Jesus they say, “Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him for ourselves we know that he really is the saviour of the world.”
That has to be my aim too. Not you believing me, but in the One who sent me.