First Reading: Exodus 17.37
Second Reading: Romans 5.12-58
Gospel: John 4.5-42

It seems strange to be offering this reflection in silence – as if my voice has been silenced. Yet this is a new reality for all of us as we find ways to communicate and pray with each other in the light of the Coronavirus COVID19 Pandemic. When I first began to prepare and write this Reflection my focus was on Laudato Si and all of creation. But as we moved closer to the weekend I found myself reflecting on the readings in the light of the Coronavirus COVID19 Pandemic. We are now in the 3rd week of Lent and things begin to look very different each day. For most of us around here our churches are no longer open for us to celebrate Mass. As I write this I find myself wondering what Easter will look like.

This is for most of us a Lent like no other. Emmanuel Martel who writes for Living with Christ writes: “The desert can be an image for a period of suffering that we can experience in our lives. We can feel so drained, so tired of pain, so distressed. We thirst for some relief, for a better time.”

Gerald Darring in his article “Softening the Heart” dares to say that “Our goal is to ‘Harden not our hearts:’ to be concerned for the poor and suffering, to forgive the criminal, to welcome the stranger, to love our enemies.” Not anything new, but living that has taken on a new reality as we are left to look with eyes of love and compassion. If we see through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we are reminded of the many around the world who are suffering of COVID19; we recognize the terror of isolation and panic.

Do we greet it as the people in the first reading did – with panic and demands – testing the Lord? Do we see the battle that is within our hearts as being also in the hearts of others? Do we dare to allow our hearts to be softened, sharing with them our thirst and how we find ways to slake it?

In looking at the Gospel we are reminded of the barriers that Jesus broke down by speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. Rabbis were forbidden to greet women in public, yet Jesus who was tired asked this woman to draw water for him. I am reminded of the barriers that the Coronavirus is given as the reason for the closing of borders and many services. It has become a great equalizer for it hits and devours people from all lands, from all states of life, young, old, rich, poor…

Jesus speaks to her, letting her know that he is fully aware of her life, of her shame; it is as if he invites her to see her own shame. The Gospel puts it as she “catches sight of herself”. And not being condemned she then runs to share her “Good News” with the others in her village who also know her well. She connects with the people of her town as she shares her secret thirst for something more than what she has.

With this virus we become increasingly aware more of the many who have nothing to fall back on – whether that be physical or spiritual and at the same time trying to figure out how to “responsibly” take care of ourselves.

We were created by God to love and join in community – that is a part of our DNA. Even in the mists of a pandemic we are intimately aware of our need for love that is much deeper than any of us are capable of experiencing on our own. How do we find and sip of the “living waters” that Jesus has promised us are ours for the asking? Do we turn away like those who blamed Moses saying that God had forgotten them? Or do we look forward and share ourselves as did this un-named woman from Samaria? How do we do this responsibly?

Laudato Si and the care of all of creation. Lent and the desert where we are stripped of all our adornments and cover-ups so only our vulnerability is visible. The corona virus presents us with a new world – will our journey strip us of our humanity or shed light on it?

There are ways in the desert of finding water and allowing God to fill us with what we need. So too with this Coronavirus. We no longer need to sing “Is that all there is?” for we are reminded that God created within all of us a soul that opens wide to love. We wait together to receive God’s living water, sit in trust together and we hope together as a people.

And perhaps most importantly let us remember to keep each other in our thoughts and prayers.

Eleanor Rabnett