Pope Francis: do not turn away with prejudice, the encounter with Jesus changes our lives

2014-03-23 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday urged his listeners not to be afraid, judgmental or prejudiced, the Lord’s mercy – he said – is far greater than any prejudice.

Speaking to some 40,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the reading from John that tells of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ In this way – the Pope explained – he cut across the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans, crushing the prejudice that existed in relating to women.

The Pope said that Jesus’ simple request signals the beginning of an open dialogue, through which, with great delicacy, He entered the interior world of a person to whom, according to social convention, He should not even have spoken to.

“But this is exactly what Jesus does! Jesus is not afraid. When Jesus sees a person he goes towards that person because he is filled with love. He loves all of us. He does not stop before anyone because of prejudice” he said.

And Francis explained that Jesus does not judge, but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily ‘routine’.

He explained that the thirst Jesus speaks of is not so much a thirst for water, but the with to quench the thirst of an arid soul. Jesus – Francis said – needs to meet the Samaritan woman to open up her heart: he asks her for a drink to highlight her own thirst. The woman – he pointed out - was touched by this meeting and asks Jesus some deep questions that each of us harbor, but often ignore.

“We too have many questions that we would like to ask, but we lack the courage to turn to Jesus!” the Pope said.

“Lent is the right time to look inside ourselves, allow our deep spiritual needs to come to the surface, and to ask the Lord for help in prayer” he said.

“The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to say: Jesus, give me that water that will quench me in eternity” he said.

And Pope Francis said the Gospel tells of Jesus’ disciples’ amazement when they discovered that their Master had spoken to that woman. But – he said - the Lord is greater than prejudice, that’s why he was not afraid to speak to the Samaritan: mercy is greater than prejudice, and Jesus – the Pope said – is very merciful.

The result of that meeting at the well – Pope Francis continued – “was that the woman was transformed: leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and told the people of her meeting with a man ‘who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ She was so happy. She had gone to the well to draw water and she found the living water, the spring of living water welling up to eternal life. She ran to the village which had always judged condemned and rejected her and announced that she had encountered the Messiah who had changed her life” he said.

And, Pope Francis said: “each encounter with Jesus changes our life, forever”.

In this Gospel reading – the Pope explained – “we too can find the stimulus to ‘leave our water jar’, the symbol of all that appears to be important, but that loses its value before ‘the love of God’. We all have one, or more than one! I ask you, and I ask myself: ‘what is your water jar, the one that weighs you down and takes you far from God?’ Let’s leave it aside and with our hearts listen to the voice of Jesus who is offering us another kind of water, the water that brings us close to the Lord” he said.

Pope Francis concluded inviting the faithful to rediscover the importance and the sense of our Christian life, and just as the Samaritan woman did, bear witness of if to our brothers. Bear witness to the joy stemming from our encounter with Jesus.

After the recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis pointed out that on Monday we mark “World Tuberculosis Day” and asked for prayers for all those who are affected by the disease and for those who, in different ways, sustain them.

And the Pope also mentioned an event that will be taking place next Friday and Saturday in parishes and dioceses across the world, called “24 hours for the Lord” during which the faithful are called to focus on penitence.