When two yearnings meet

When two yearnings meet it is like two rivers converging. A stream runs down the mountain over rocks and stones, turning and twisting as it goes. It gets bogged down in a stretch of flat land and takes ages to build up momentum to move on again - until eventually it meets a big river in which it loses itself and its struggles are over.

Reading the fourth chapter of John’s gospel is like that. Here is this woman with a yearning for relationship yet everything goes wrong. She has had “five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband.” She is so ashamed she doesn’t even go to the well with other women at a cool hour of the day, but goes alone when the sun is high in the sky.

There she meets Jesus. She is shy and sarcastic at first. “You promise water but you have no bucket!” She has suffered so much. But Jesus is not put off. He continues to talk to her and she listens intently. Gradually her wounded heart is softened. But she gets to the point where she is stuck and can go no further.

“We’ll have to wait for the Messiah. He will tell us everything.” And then, uniquely in the gospels, Jesus reveals himself to her. “I am the Messiah.”

The woman is overwhelmed, forgets her shyness and her shame, and rushes off to tell her townsfolk. She then disappears from history. Two yearnings, that of Jesus to share “the gift of God”, and that of the woman for relationship, come together. Magic ensues, as when two people fall in love. An energy is born that was not there before and life takes off.

The woman becomes a model disciple; hearing the good news herself she immediately proclaims it to others without fear. People who shunned her are now roused up by her and follow her bidding. Jesus looks up and sees the people coming to him, “look, the fields are white, ready for the harvest.”

This story is a capsule of God’s initiative in our world and what our response can be. It describes the break-in of the divine into our faltering lives.

“Deep within them I will plant my law” (Jer 31:33). The yearning is there in each of us. We just have to find the river of Love and it is not difficult. He is there waiting for us at the well.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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