All for the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary!

The 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 water.

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 draw water.

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.”

As 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!

My 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….

In 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 with Himself.

So 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 so small….

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 this water.   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.

It 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.

The woman continues to tell Jesus that a Messiah is coming and when He comes he will announce everything.

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.


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