Daily Gospel Reflection - 20 January 2013
Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus.
In the meantime the disciples spoke to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”
The disciples asked each other, “Has someone brought him food?”
Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest. Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together. This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests. I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.”
Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.”
Unity. This story is about our connectedness. About how “one sows and another harvests.” It’s about there not being a difference between “Jews and Gentiles,” chosen people or not-chosen people, found people and lost people, about differences of gender, about healed and sick, etc. It’s about how we are all connected. It’s about “I am who I am because of who we all are.” It’s to show us that we’re all in this together.
I also think this says a lot about incarnation - the Incarnation. And that connectedness says a lot about the Trinity. Let me explain.
The idea of Trinity is that of connectedness - of the individual “persons” sharing one “essence” or “core” or “commonality.” It’s about the idea of relationship, connectedness, and individuality.
The Father-Mother is not the Child nor the Holy Spirit. The Child is not the Holy Spirit nor the Father-Mother. The Holy Spirit is not the Father-Mother nor the Child.
They are all G_d. The Father-Mother is G_d. The Child is G_d. The Holy Spirit is G_d.
They are so intertwined, that one can’t be removed from the other two. They’re like a Celtic knot. One line woven so intricately that it looks like three separate things. If we were to remove the one line, the three separate things would unravel. That’s what I see happening on several levels in this story.
Not only did the townspeople believe because of what Photine said (connectedness) but because of what they heard themselves (individuality). Furthermore, Jesus is given sustenance by doing G_d’s will. The will of the Father-Mother has become the will of Jesus. And that source, that essence, is what connects them and gives each other life.
Furthermore, the fact the Father-Mother became human suggests that there is now a completeness with G_d and humanity that never existed before. I know that seems a bit blasphemous - that somehow G_d was not complete before the Incarnation - so let me put it differently.
What if we see this completeness, not a limitation, but as a further revelation; a further completion; a further manifestation. Think about Jesus’ resurrection. His body was not different than his physical body, the writers are clear to point this out. But it was also more than his physical body, which they were also clear to point out. Even after seeing it, John wrote that he didn’t know what we would be like in the fully realized state, only that we would be like him.
Further still, the Incarnation also points to the sacredness of all creation. To quote John Scottus Eriugena, “Matter matters.” When G_d became a human being, the sacredness of creation was magnified. It simultaneously showed us what the Creator G_d really looks like and reminded us to what being Truly Human looks like (thus the CEB’s insistence in using the phrase “Human One” instead of “Son of Man,” when Jesus refers to himself).
We see this transformation throughout the Bible. In the Jewish Scriptures (the Bible’s Old Testament) we see that there was an evolutionary understanding of G_d for the people of Israel. G_d told Moses that the previous generations only knew G_d in one way, whereas Moses and those following would know G_d more intimately; in a deeper way.
Going still further, in the New Testament Jesus represents a further/deeper understanding of the One True G_d (see John 10.30; John 14.9). But the evolution doesn’t stop there! It extends to you and me - plain ol’ ordinary people. In other words, because of the work of Christ, people can now become one with G_d - the ultimate in connectedness. This is called “theosis” in Orthodoxy. It means that, while humanity can’t be G_d, we can “become by grace what G_d is by nature.” Like Peter wrote, we can “share the divine nature.”
This is why Jesus can say that what we have or haven’t done to our fellow human beings, we have or haven’t done to him. Because G_d became human, we are connected to one another, to creation, and to G_d.
The story before illustrates that truth - Jesus is fed by G_d; Photine is fed by Jesus who is fed by G_d; the townspeople are fed by Photine who is fed by Jesus who is fed by G_d; lastly, the disciples are fed by the townspeople who are fed by Photine who is fed by Jesus who is fed by G_d. Therefore, the disciples are fed by G_d through the actions of all the other people in the story. Truly, one person sows and another reaps. The harvest is indeed ready!
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC