In this ReGift, guest writer Jolene writes about being set apart, being found at the well, and accepting the primacy of grace.
One of the mental wanderings I like to chew on is contrasting various women in the bible. Whether it be Mary, Jezebel, or the Samaritan woman, they all seem to have a message associated with their story that speaks to me. Some of these women were really holy, some on the way to choosing holiness and one was way down the totem pole as far as holiness goes. I’d like to throw a few stories out to you and then offer some thoughts as to how their stories can speak to us women in our own present day society.
The first story is during Elijah’s time when Jezebel was queen, in the area of Samaria. She was a foreign woman whom the king had married and she worshiped five gods - one being Baal. With her came the worship of these false gods. Elijah, who was the prophet at this time, spoke out against her and even offered to prove that her gods were false with a ‘face off’ on Mount Carmel. I’m sure you know what happened so I won’t get into it, but all that needs to be said is that Jezebel was humiliated and Yahweh proved Himself to be the only true God. Eventually Jezebel ‘hit the road’ (pun intended) when servants pushed her out the window and she fell to her death.
The second short bible story I want to mention is the story of when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. I find it interesting that Jesus reveals himself as the Christ to this woman. In their conversation we find out she has five husbands. It is here that He gives her the irresistible offer of water of which she could drink so that she would never be thirsty again. He tells her, ‘The water that I will give shall become a spring within welling up to eternal life’.
More than ever people are having a renewed interest in the ways of prayer. Just as in the days of the early desert fathers and mothers, when the early Christians were beginning to lose their fervor, we too are being called to stop and ask ourselves ‘What is it really all about?’. As we do this, I believe we have old ‘Jezebel’ , so to speak, distracting us with her false idols once again. I’m not implying that we have little stone statues that we bring burnt offerings to in exchange for it’s favour, but I am referring to the subtle things we allow to steal our affections in an inordinate way. It could be anything from food, TV, clothes, books, acceptance… you name it. Of course these things aren’t bad in themselves but when we find that we are willing to sacrifice our families, health, and contentment to them then they have gone beyond their original purpose. These affections call us to take our eyes off of our True Beloved to turn to the ‘false husbands’ that this world has to offer. Some days I find it hard to stay alert with all of these attachments lulling me to sleep. So often I have bought into the lie that ‘if only I had… I would be happy’. In the midst of this battle to stay alert I believe we have a valuable weapon within our grasp - Mary. It is not only her intercession that protects us but our imitation of her disposition as the model of the ‘True Bride’ of the Holy Spirit. So often we hear Our Lady’s words, ‘My Immaculate Heart will triumph’. I believe it is when her Immaculate Heart is beating within the chest of all people as they cry out to the Father in one voice, ‘Your will be done!’ that this triumph will truly come about. Obedience turns all things around. We saw this with Jesus, the new Adam. It is the humble servants of the Lord who push ‘Jezebel’ out the window.
I believe we women play an especially important role as our society becomes more and more heart-less. Too long have we allowed modern voices to define us as women. More than ever it is women ‘impregnated with the gospel’ (as the closing remarks of Vatican II state) that will breathe new life into a society that has rejected the ‘ways of the heart’. If we are to be part of this renewal then like the desert fathers and mothers we too have to ask ourselves ‘What is it really all about?’ Again He is calling to us, His bride, to awaken. Just as in the story of Snow White, we are in need of ‘True Love’s’ kiss to awaken us. In the Songs of Solomen it says, ‘He will kiss me with His mouth’.
For the most part we are all well meaning and ‘good’ women. However, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap that ‘ good is good enough’. There is still so much He wants to accomplish in and through us. I believe He desires that we be set apart, a chosen remnant. To live this out I believe we have to look differently than the average person. If we’re just as busy and stressed out as the next guy then how does that set us apart? We may be nice and happy but those qualities are so generic that the cashier at the local grocery store can put that face on for minimum wage. If anything, Christianity has leaned so heavily on these qualities that we’ve ended up being tagged as being ‘plastic’ and most times they're right. If we’re not authentic and present to people then the smile is merely a hollow evangelism.
Until we show with our lives that we are living radical simplicity, authentic faith and reverent obedience then who’s to know that we believe in someone greater than ourselves? It’s too easy to point a finger at atheism in the world, yet we fail to see the atheist sitting in our own church pews. It is a subtle lack of belief among Christians that keeps us spinning our wheels while going nowhere fast. We may believe there is a God, but we fail to see that we’re not Him.
June 12, 2014