Though race, nationality, wealth and poverty, time and space and sex, divide the Church, even so her members have in common bodies of flesh formed from the same earthy clay and we look to a shared destiny in which our mutable bodies will be changed like our Lord’s own resurrected body. Resurrected, glorified bodies, yes – but not generic human bodies in which our fleshed-out realities of this present life have been erased. Swedes will not become Jews in the Kingdom of God, female will not become male, but our specificity, our quiddity, even one’s oddness will rise to new and sublime levels of oddness and unimagined meaning and value in God’s Kingdom. Grace perfects nature it does not destroy nature.
Jesus was nailed to the cross around 9:00 in the morning. About Noon he implored someone in that crowd to have mercy and give him a drink. “I thirst.” One of the crucifiers fastened a vinegar soaked sponge on the tip of a spear and put it to his lips. We worship a God of flesh, a God who has experienced the same passions and physical needs of the rest of human family.
A few months before this, he was traveling through Samaria and he was worn out and hungry. His disciples went into the village to find food and he sat down on a spot of ground next to a well – Jacob’s well. He was thirsty but he had no rope or pail to draw water. That too was around Noon. Jesus was alone.
And then a woman from the village came to draw water. This was a weird time of day to come after water. But the other women of the village did not welcome this woman. In all likelihood she had come to this well at Noon in order to avoid the women. Respectable, well-brought-up folk did not want her around. She was shameless. No one wanted anything to do with her, except of course, those who wanted to use her. That much she had learned. People use people. She knew what it was like to be used and she had lived long enough to know that she had better use them before they used her.
She was surprised by this Stranger. Note the posture. Jesus is resting on the ground next to the well. She is standing. Jesus looked up at her and said: “I thirst.” She began arguing with him, playfully, familiar, even skillful in her manner. Her argument took a decidedly theological direction. But Jesus wouldn’t argue back. Instead He made promises to her. Now she had heard promises from men before. She was skeptical. She had good reason. But here he is, this Stranger, making a very big promise: Living Water. She shot back “Hey, you can’t even get regular water for yourself and you are promising me ‘living water.’” He told her that if she would merely ask him then God Almighty would fill her life with true, permanent happiness. That seems to have struck a chord and in a flash she said: “I know that Messiah is coming and when he does he will make everything right.” And then Jesus said to her: “I who speak to you am he.” There you have it! Unambiguous! Is there another event you can cite in the New Testament where Jesus declared his messianic identity so straightforwardly to anyone else? Furthermore she believed him. And she became so excited that she dropped her pail and ran into the village and told them about Jesus. Many of the village folk believed on him that day as the Messiah. She became a member of the Bride of Christ and she met her true Husband.
Holy Mother Church knows Jesus to be true God and True Man. True Man worn out from his journey; resting against a well. True Man who knew hunger. True Man who asked a woman for a drink of water. True Man weeping at his friend’s grave. True Man knowing more about human pain and sorrow than any of us. He was spent. He was nailed to a rough cross and he died. God cannot die, but the Church proclaims that the God of the Universe stooped to become one of us because he loves us.
At the permanent center of the life of the Bride of Christ – she worships the God who has been made True Man, her Husband, who was crucified for her life. We worship a God who loves us.