OCTOBER 25, 2003- DEDICATION OF ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL: HOMILY- JOHN 4: 19- 24
WHEN THE MESSIAH COMES WHO IS CALLED CHRIST, HE WILL DECLARE EVERYTHING TO US. ’I AM HE WHO IS SPEAKING WITH YOU.’If we listen to these words of Jesus with faith, they are spoken to us. That is precisely why John wrote them, to place us in the presence of our Risen Lord as he addresses them to each of us. The inspired speech of Jesus remains active with the life of the Holy Spirit once his words are given entry into the heart by a trusting faith enlivened by desire to know and love him. Today’s Gospel then has two simultaneous functions. First, it allows us to listen in to the moving private discussion between Jesus and the unstable woman of many loves who is a type of all persons of good will who are held captive by false belief and values. We learn here how, by his words and manner of treating with her, Jesus was able to change her dispositions and correct her erroneous views. Made by anyone else, Jesus’ claim would have seemed outrageous. All the more as he declares himself in a phrase that the Samaritans used to designate God Himself: ‘I am’ (+(T ,Ç:4, in the Greek original). Spoken by Jesus, his declaration was immediately experienced as stating the truth, for his manner conveyed a transcendent nobility and purity of character
But no less importantly, this Gospel not only reveals who Jesus is, it also serves to place us in personal communion with him, the Messiah, who in these inspired words continues to carry out his mission of teaching us all things that lead to our salvation and our true fulfillment. Here and now we can meet the same Lord who spoke these life-giving words to the Samaritan woman and allow his presence to heal and sanctify us if we but choose to welcome him as our Savior. By the fact of giving credence to his teaching and inviting him into the depths of our heart, we carry out in practice precisely what Jesus taught this woman: to make our lives, our very self over to him in faith and trust. This self-surrender is what it means to worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. There is no other way to full and eternal life.
It is for this reason that the Gospel we have just heard is proclaimed on the Feast of the Dedication of our Diocesan Cathedral. For the glorified person of our Lord in all levels of his being- body, soul and divine Spirit- has become the true temple where God meets us, receives the service of our worship and unites us with himself by the bond of his loving Spirit. It is this holy mystery of our common union with Christ and in him, the divine-human mystery that gives purpose and surpassing significance to our life. This is what we celebrate in the liturgy today.&
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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