Mystery of God's Election
Sr. Silvia Maria Tarafa, sctjm
Based on a discernment retreat to young women
at Christ the King Retreat Center
May 22, 2009
For private use only -©
The passage of the Samaritan Woman at the Well, John 4:5-41 – can
give us insight on the Vocational call. Let us break it down to see
how it sheds light on this sublime call.
The Scriptures read:
Jesus came to a city of Samaria…and
wearied as he was from the journey sat down beside the well.
Jesus deliberately places himself someplace. He is specific,
intentional. He knows exactly where He needs to be to have His
personal encounter with us. It is not by chance. Jesus sits at the
“edge of the well” waiting for the woman to come. He knows where to
find her even at an unusual place and time, for most women did not
go the fetch water in the middle of the heat of the day, unless they
might have been hiding from something. Even still, He knew she was
there, and He goes to meet her.
There was a woman in Samaria:
And we see that He is waiting for His encounter with a specific
woman. The call to religious life is a specific call, an individual
call, a personal call, to a specific and a particular person.
The woman of Samaria came to draw
She too is on pilgrimage, in search. She is thirsty, she is seeking
something; she is not stagnant. She is seeking water. She is
seeking and doing something to quench her thirst. So she comes to
Jesus said to her: “Give me a Drink.”
For the most part, Vocational proposals tend to begin with a series
of little requests, a series of invitations. The Lord does not begin
with a proposal, but slowly leads to it. In the same way a young man
does not propose to the girl He wants to marry before the first
date. He starts slowly, trying to win her heart. He waits to see if
she is willing to trust him, to spend more time with him to love him
and to follow him. The vocational call may have begun the first
time Jesus invited us to surrender things, people and places we used
to enjoy in our past to make more room for Him. It continues with
invitations to a deeper prayer life, or to a deeper investment of
our time and our heart reading scripture, frequenting the
sacraments, praying the rosary, reading the story of the saints,
serving others, etc. All of these little requests seem to be
difficult before we say “yes.” When we finally say “yes” the hurdle
was not so hard after all. But before we know it, comes the next
request and because it stretches us beyond where we are right now,
it too seems difficult- at first. Until we go over this hurdle. Once
we are on the other side of the request, once we say “yes,” it is
not so difficult. We even get to the point of wondering how we could
have lived our lives carrying the baggage of all those old things
and without the joy of the newly found gifts and tender love of Him
we have begun to make room for.
Jesus said to her: “You Give
me a Drink.”
our relationship with the Lord continues, we see Jesus saying to us
specifically- “YOU_________, you give me to drink.” Jesus says to
us: “I have need of you; there is something that I need from you.”
“There is something that only you can give me.” “You are the only
one that can give me what I am asking for- your heart.” He thirsts
for us, He thirsts for me, He thirsts for you; He thirsts for our
love. And only you and I can satisfy this longing in His heart. The
call to a religious vocation - is Jesus calling us personally,
specifically, individually. God asks, “You to give Him
something to drink”- He asks of you something that only you can
give. You have something that God wants.
This of course is an overwhelming thought for us. We think, “He must
not mean me.” We look behind us to see who He may be talking to.
Certainly it is not I. How could He want me? I am nothing, I am no
one, I have nothing that He could possibly want more of. I have
nothing that could possibly satisfy His thirst. He is God, and I am
an ant. So we of course say what the Samaritan woman responded-How
is it that you a Jew ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?
For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. How is that you,
Jesus- God could be speaking to me this way? How is that you know
me? How come my person is not unknown to you? How is it that you see
me? How is it that you know the circumstances in my life today? How
is it that you are here talking with me? What could I possibly do
for you--- you who are God?
Yet, even in the midst of this confusion, we sense a mysterious
attraction to Him who is asking. Something stirs within that is new,
that seems strange, that we just can’t put our finger on. It is not
something that we can fully grasp, let alone explain it to others.
But something draws us mysteriously….ever closer to Him.
Jesus answers her: If you knew the
gift [of God ...and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a
drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living
water.] If you would just
dare to look up; if you would take the elevator to the top floor to
get a supernatural perspective on your life; if you would dare to go
beyond the minor preoccupations of your daily life; if you would
simply open up your life and your heart beyond your daily worries
and fears, and surrender yourself to what is above- to Him who is
above, you would discover your happiness. You would discover who it
is you were created (from all eternity) to be. If only you would
know the gift.
If you knew the gift of God
[and who it is that is saying to you….]
And if you would really know who God
is, How much He loves us, how much He loves you; If we really knew
Him to be Who He is. If we really knew Him to be perfect love, if we
knew Him to be perfect mercy, perfect generosity… perfect goodness,
then we would not be afraid of the distance between us. We would
understand that He stoops down to where we are. He is the fair and
wealthy prince who goes in search and desires to marry the pauper’s
fair daughter and bestow on her all of his gifts, simply because He
loves us that much. He is all merciful which means He is
attracted to our mercy!
religious vocation was very much stuck here. I was waiting to become
a saint before I entered. Of course that was not going to happen.
Then I understood how St. Therese explains it. She says, God gives
me the desire to be a saint: to love him with all my heart, soul and
strength, to love others with His love, to always do His will. But I
am not capable of doing this. I fall at every turn. So, she would
say, if God gives me the desire, then it is He who is going to have
to do this sanctifying work in me. I know I did not give myself the
desire to be a saint. I know a time in my life when that was the
farthest thing from my mind. I did not even know what being a saint
meant. So if He gives me the desire, then He is going to have to
give me the ability to become a saint… since I cannot do it myself.
He will have to be my sanctity. Practically speaking, understanding
this about God’s goodness means knowing that “God will supply ALL
our needs…” to be able to respond to His desire for our lives. We do
not do it ourselves; we cannot. We are too weak, too selfish too
small, too scared. But with Him, we can do everything.
If you knew the gift of God and who
it is that is saying to you….
Jesus is saying to us: if you knew the gift of God that He desires
to give to you… open yourself up to discover the call that I am
asking of you. Do not be afraid, I am always with you to help you.
If you knew ….who it is that is saying to you….
all vocations, God does the asking. God takes the first step, He
initiates the invitation- Not us. Our responsibility, once we hear
the invitation- is simply to respond. Jesus attracts to himself the
woman’s attention. Making her conscious that it is He -God Himself,
who is asking her, “give me a drink.” It is Jesus who is inviting
her to establish a more intimate relationship with Himself, to enter
into a deeper dialogue, to call her to a deeper love relationship
if we had the certainty that it is You- an all loving and all
powerful God who is asking, then we would be asking you for
the grace to respond generously to such a sublime invitation. And
then from us would flow out the: “Yes Lord I desire to satiate your
thirst by my surrendering my life to you.”That is why prayer, a
continuous dialogue with our Lord is so important. First to discover
who it is that is asking. Second, to begin to understand
what He is asking. And third, to give me the grace to respond-
to His plan of happiness for my life.
The woman says to Him. “Sir you have
no bucket to withdraw the water, and the well is deep. Where do you
get that living water? Are you perhaps greater than our ancestor
Jacob who gave us the well from which we drank with his son and his
flocks?” This is what is
in the heart of each person who feels the call: fear! Dread!
Panic! And so we look for ways to evade God’s election over us.
And it is so normal for us to feel afraid. What should not happen is
that we allow our fears to overcome us. For then our fears would
become a stumbling block to our happiness.
You have no bucket to withdraw the
water… Here also we can
see ourselves. Before God’s call, we can hardly believe the
immensity of the Divine Heart’s desire for us. The soul can hardly
take seriously God’s offer. It is such a big risk; it cannot risk so
much. Because it is so much easier for us to believe in what we can
see and touch, or in what we are sure we can do. So we try to defend
ourselves from God, by negating God’s call altogether- You have
nothing to withdraw with, I am not capable; It’s not for me. You
must mean someone else. Wait ‘till I am a saint…. The well is
deep. It is true even in the midst of our doubts and our fears
and our pasts, we do recognize Christ’s heart is deep, almost too
deep, too big, too mysterious too infinite- before ourselves who are
Where do you get that living water,
tell me from where? Yet,
even in the midst of this confusion and fear, an interest has been
sparked. The search to look further has begun, though it is still
weak and presently overwhelmed by doubt. Yet within there is the
constant murmuring of: “Where are we to find the water we are
searching for- the living water, fresh and pure. And “Where
do we begin to get a glimpse of our true identity, who we were
created to be, our future?”
Are you greater than our ancestor
Jacob who gave us the well, from where he and his sons and his
flocks drank from? This is
like saying, “All have enjoyed this water and have not gone in
search of another. So why do you come here to complicate my life.
Why can’t you just let things be. Why are you forcing me to choose
something that makes me strange in the eyes of my family and
friends? Just let me live my normal life like everyone else does-
PLEASE! Please leave me be.
The mystery perturbs and disconcerts, but Jesus does not give up, he
tells us: Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty
again; but those who drink of the water that I will give them will
never be thirsty. Here we see Jesus insisting on clarifying two
crucial points. First, He insists in making it clear to us that what
he offers us is on another plane; it is situated above. He is asking
us to respond to something superior. And Second, He wants to help us
understand that it is profoundly satisfying, like nothing we have
ever tasted before- absolute fulfillment.
That is why, the water I will give will become in them a spring
of water gushing up to eternal life. Here is another crucial
point in the religious vocation. The water Jesus is offering is not
just for my benefit; it is for the benefit of others as well. It
does not belong to us, it is for others, it is to be given away; it
is for all. It is a fountain of life. It is a responsibility; it is
self-forgetfulness and service for others; it is a life that aspires
to make a gift of ourselves- for others.
“Sir,” says the woman, Give me
At last! The woman responds what Christ desires us all to
respond. “Lord, give me your will, Lord give me your will for my
life. Lord may your will be done in me.” Like the Blessed Mother:
“Let it be done to me according to Thy word.” What at first was a
simple call from Jesus, slowly becomes a supplication on her own
behalf, an in-depth search for God’s designs for her life. This is
what God desires for us: that we seek this water and then beseech
Him so that we can make a response worthy of the call he makes.
And so she continues her discernment. Light is shed on her life, on
her past. Go and call your husband.
Jesus invites her to open herself and to meditate on her life story.
Reflect on all those things people and places you have made the
center of your life. What have you been living for? Who have you
been living for up to now?
And then come back here
After looking at all the events of your life, look at all the things
in your life you have given your energy to, given your -self to, and
then come back to Me.
The woman responds: I have no husband. Become aware of how
all the other things in your life you have given an opportunity to,
all those things that have consumed your life (even good things,)
see how they have failed to satisfy you. The water you’ve drunk up
to now has not satiated your thirst. That is why she is empty and in
search. It is important for our hearts to admit the interior
emptiness we have (not to depress us or frustrate us but to urge us
on our search to intentionally discern where our lives will be truly
satisfied… I have no husband.
Jesus responds: You are right in saying, I have no husband, for
you have had 5 husbands, and the one you have now is not your
husband. Jesus is helping her see how far she is from her
authentic identity, and simultaneously encouraging her to set out to
discover it. He shows her that sometimes we set out to do so many
things to quench our thirst, yet these things do not fill our lives.
Something inside still continues to be missing. The water from where
we have abundantly drunk has failed to quench our thirst. Perhaps we
have lived with an apparent fulfillment, because it is all we’ve
known, because it is all we’ve seen, because it is all we expect or
because it is all we believe possible. But Jesus comes to us now and
tells us, I want to give you something much more.
...and the one you have now is not
your husband? That is to
say, what you are doing now is not what will fulfill you.
Sir, I see you are a prophet.
The woman recognizes God’s wisdom
but still she tests him by asking: Where should we adore God in
reality, Where does God Live.…” She is far from recognizing that
God can be found in the personal history of each person. That God
can be found inside of us. Jesus responds, “Woman, believe me,
the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this
mountain nor in Jerusalem… God is Spirit and those who adore him
need to be guided by the Spirit so that he can be worshiped as he
must. But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
is not a question of where we worship him, in which mountain, but
that we worship Him from the depths of our being. May the Holy
Spirit guide us to worship Him in truth, in the truth of who we were
created to be for all eternity.
to tell Jesus that a Messiah is coming and when He comes he will
She insists that the Lord is the one that is going to speak to her,
to make things clear. She has yet to discover that the Lord uses all
sorts of means- scripture, nature, dreams, signs and regular people
and circumstances to communicate to us and to reveal himself to us.
Her fears and doubts subside when it becomes very clear to her that
it is God himself who is speaking to her. Jesus unveils the mystery
she is finally ready to receive, I am He who is speaking to you.
She finally realizes that it is God Himself, the Creator of the
stars and the galaxies that has been inviting her to a deeper
relationship. She finally realizes that God is in her actual
history. She realizes that it is the Lord who is asking. She is not
making things up in her head; it is not her imagination, it is not
another person- a nun, a priest or a friend who is saying this to
her. It is GOD HIMSELF PROPOSING……At this amazing realization, she
is able to leave everything behind. The woman left her water jar
and went back to the city. Jesus begins to quench her thirst,
what need does she have of the water jar. In the clarity of knowing-
“it is Jesus!” “HE is calling me!” In the midst of
this process, she is able to leave her old life behind, in exchange
for the life giving waters flowing from the depths of Jesus’ Heart.
She is able to then announce to others what Jesus has done. He has
revealed me to myself. He has allowed me to discover the meaning of
my past. He has opened my life to a new future. He has told me the
truth about myself. He has revealed to me my true identity. He
reveals to me who I am called to be from all eternity when God
first said, “Before you were in my Mother’s womb, I knew you.”
Jesus wants to do the same with us today, as he did with the
Samaritan woman. He desires to reveal to us our own identity. He
wants to show each of us His plan for your lives. This is what He
died to do. And that is the main goal of this retreat, with God’s
grace to help you discover the truth of His plan for your life. Do
not be afraid to let Jesus love you. To let He- who is love- and all
power- guide you to the perfect plan for your life, hidden in the
depths of your heart, of your being. Be not afraid to discover it,
and once you do discover it, do not let it fall from your hands. And
if you do recognize the call of the Lord and you feel too weak to
respond, beg Jesus- “Give me this water!” May it spring from me a
fountain that will bring myself and others to eternal life.
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and