It’s interesting to see how our image of Jesus changes over our lifetime. When we are little, we start seeing Jesus as the “Sweet Little Baby” born on Christmas day. As we grow more into the teen years, Jesus becomes like a “Santa Claus” type figure for us. We pray to Him for the gifts we are hoping to receive. Then young adulthood arrives when we are seeking out our future, and so we turn to Jesus who is our “pal” and “close friend” who listens to all our problems with life and relationships. Finally, as we reach the elder years, Jesus becomes who He really is: our “Savior” and “deepest love.” What makes this progression possible really is a personal knowledge of Jesus, which only comes by developing a personal relationship with Him. This comes through daily prayer and especially partaking of the eucharist. Not everybody gets to that point. For example, we sometimes we older adults still relating to a “Santa Claus” type Jesus, praying only for their own wants and needs. The point is that we must take the time and effort to get to know Jesus. If we do, He reveals His true identity in ways that help us grow. In today’s Gospel, for example, Jesus encounters the woman at the well. We are familiar with that story. At first, she is childlike towards Him as she refers to Jesus as “Sir.” He is a nice, kind stranger who listens towards Him as she refers to Jesus as “Sir.” He is a nice, kind stranger who listens to her problems and questions. But as she gets to know Him more by talking with Him (= prayer), she begins to refer to Him as a “Prophet” because He knows everything about her. Already her image of Jesus is developing. Then she experiences His wise answers to her questions and enjoys His kindness to her a Samaritan woman, which was unusual at that time. Again, her image of Jesus has gone to another level. Finally, when Jesus finishes with her she feels the power of His presence making her want to change. She begins to see that the words of truth and the water from the well that He shared with her really did feel like living water. She feels how He quenched her spiritual thirst and gave her hope and forgiveness. She has now moved on to a deeper image of Jesus, calling Him to be “the Christ.” This development in her relationship with the Lord impels her to become one of His disciples. For she now goes back to her town and testifies that she found the Messiah! She is a new evangelizer on His behalf! How about us? Are we developing our image Jesus to a more adult level? Or are we still back in the early days of our schooling and choosing images of the Lord that only make us feel good? Lent is the time to grow!    ~ Fr. John

 

 

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