Life Altering Encounters

TRANSFORMING ENCOUNTERS

Every time we have an encounter with Jesus, whether through prayer, participation in the Sacraments, or reading Scripture, we are transformed.  Sometimes the change is minute and only God is aware of what changed. Other times, as seen with the Woman of Samaria, the exchange produces a life altering effect.  In Chapter 4 of Who Does He Say You Are? Colleen Mitchell guides the reader to not merely recognize what Jesus has done for “The Woman at the Well,” but also to see the transformation he longs to work in us.

JESUS MEETS US WHERE WE ARE AT

One of the first details John’s gospel reveals is the time Jesus meets the woman at the well.  It is noon.  The parching heat of the midday would have assured the woman of Samaria that she would be alone in her quest for water.  Yet, when she arrives, Jesus is there.
Jesus does not wait to encounter her after she’d “cleaned up her act.”  His love is not bound by our good behavior but by his immense love for each of us. There is nothing in our past his mercy cannot erase. Jesus is also not deterred by her ethnicity, religious beliefs, or the fact she is a woman which illustrates his redeeming work extends to everyone.

Chapter 4 Reflection

OUR ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS CHANGE OUR PERSPECTIVE

The woman first addresses Jesus as “Sir.”  As their discussion continues, we can watch her transformation evolving.  She next refers to him as “prophet,” and finally, with a knowing continence, though still questioningly uses the term, “Messiah.”  Jesus unfolds the mystery of who he is, in a way she can understand and at a pace she can accept.   Gentle, loving, yet without skirting truthful realities that are necessary for her to confront in order to be healed, transformed and leave them behind.

As Colleen points out in this chapter, there is a great urgency to her voice as Jesus reveals the treasure of living water he has for her. “’Give me this water,’ the Samaritan Woman forgets herself, seemingly demanding it.”  Mitchell reminds us that we too, “will insist and beg and plead that he come to our aid.”  Urgently requesting, “Fix it, Lord – quickly.”

In May 2017, I went for a routine mammogram.  After being called back for a closer look, I was lead to the Radiologist office for a consultation.  It was dark with just the ultrasound images illuminating the room.  My heart raced, my mouth went dry, and my ears began to ring.  He reached to shake my hand, but I recoiled it to my chest, due to its ragged condition from a hand eczema flare.  The doctor furrowed his brow and said, “well, you have an enlarged lymph node, it may be from your eczema, but you will need you have it biopsied to be sure.”

Already struggling with anxiety, this news completely overwhelmed me.  I began to pray with great urgency for the best possible result.  It was three long weeks of praying, testing, learning to trust God, and waiting.  Finally, I received word it was indeed inflammation and not cancer.  The relief was so great I sobbed.  In that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me to lose the anxiety but never the urgency with which I prayed during that time. It is beautiful and illustrates a great desire for God to always be near – to quench my thirst with living water.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LEAVE BEHIND

Colleen concludes the chapter with these wise words, “He is a God that chooses transformation over quick fixes … Transformation complete we simply leave behind who we were. She simply leaves behind the water jar.”  The woman leaves more than just a jar, she left behind her shameful past.  I was called to leave behind my anxieties and lack of trust in God’s plan.  What are you being called to leave behind?

  1. What are some of the ways we can encounter Christ in our everyday life?
  2. The Woman of Samaria’s healing begins by acknowledging and confessing the things that separated her from God. Do you also consider those things and regularly participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
  3. The Woman left behind her jar. What are you being asked to leave behind?
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