Sunday, May 13, 2012

"My Food"

So today the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman rolled around again. And I thought of “that song” we used to sing in the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies, and I smiled because this is one of my favorite Gospel readings. It seems to hit me differently every year. Last year, what struck me about this story was that the woman, having just been told all her sins, diverts the topic to enter upon a theological dialogue about the proper place to worship God. The year before that, it was that the woman actually left her water container behind when she ran into the city to tell everyone she had probably found the Messiah. Her original mission was forgotten; her new mission was of overriding importance. I wondered to myself what it would be this year...

It was “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me.” That’s the phrase that smacked me in the face and heart this year. On several levels. Food! That, of course, grabs me every time, who am addicted to it. But “My food is to do the will of Him,” that is, of the Father. To do the Father’s will is what truly nourishes not only Jesus, but all of us. Imagine that: doing the Father’s will, better than food!

I resist doing His will, because it seems such a sacrifice; giving up my own will, as a sort of capitulation. As in that old Evangelical hymn, “I surrender All.” That’s appealing to teenagers and young adults but not so much to those of us who are too old to be excited by a challenge. Especially a challenge that, it seems, may involve, er, austerity, asceticism, deprivation. Sorry, I too often say to God. I will try to do Your will this moment and that’s the best I can do. I can’t promise anything about tomorrow or the day after that or even an hour from now.

And yet, and yet! When we do manage more or less to do His will, then how does it seem to us? Not so much like a sacrifice at all! No, rather, like new freedom and growth and fulfillment, like joy and peace, the kind that shines even through sorrow.

Well, DUH! Of course, because this freedom and growth and fulfillment, this joy and peace, are exactly the point of God’s will! He only and always wills for us whatever is best for us. And how, in those moments, does our contrary will appear, that which was formerly our own will? So petty! So shabby! And destructive, both to those around us and to ourselves.

So to do God’s will truly is our nourishment, is better for us than food, just as the living water He offers the Samaritan Woman is better than the water from the well. And this heavenly food, this living water, are better not merely for our souls, but for our souls and bodies alike.

And on another level (or is it?) whenever I am tempted to overeat, which is all the time, I intend to remind myself: My food is to do the will of my Father. And I hope, with your prayers, this will help.


James the Thickheaded said...

Today as the Deacon read, I looked over him to the woman behind him... who was widowed some time back and wondered how she heard, "Thou hast no husband..." and whether that would sting at some level. In my imagination, it seemed somewhat jarring at the time as it was read. And I haven't sorted that out yet... but will have to re-read the passage with that in mind. Yet I'm not sure -despite what our culture presupposes to teach us that men and women are interchangeable - that a man can even possibly imagine the fullness of it to a woman. Some, yes perhaps, but not all. Thanks for refreshing the moment.

GretchenJoanna said...

I was thinking about that aspect of the story this morning as well, though the priest's emphasis was elsewhere. Thank you for a reminder to follow up on that gentle prodding to eat better food.