This Lent started with the story of the Samaritan women, which ends with:
The woman left her water jar and went into the town and told the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” They went out of the town and came to him.
Then the angel replied to the women, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” They went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.
There is something missing here and it is important. Jesus sees a Samaritan woman and in the entire passage Torah, Navy, and Writings are never mentioned. Both of these passages are about evangelizing. Jesus talks with the woman knowing she has had five husbands and is now on number six. He has already had a lengthy conversation with her. This is important. She thinks she is hiding her faults. She drives the conversation, not Jesus. By engaging in this conversation and let her drive it, Jesus tells her she is in God’s image and well worth talking to. He establishes rapport. Only after she brings up the adultery does he say, in essence, “I already know about that.” He does not focus on the fault. She already gets enough of that from the proper people of her day. She does not need it from Jesus, or from us, in her time, or ours.
The woman goes back to the Samaritans and says, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.” She does not seem to have a Bible either.
Now, both passages are about evangelizing. For the First Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells the two women to evangelize to the disciples. Do not use books. Tell people what you saw. He tells us the same. “Go evangelize! Don’t take your bibles to town son; leave your bibles at home! Don’t take your bible to town.” Do as St. Francis said, “Go out and evangelize, and if necessary, use words.”
Show them the tomb of your life. If your life was not a tomb, in both Jewish and Christian traditions, you have a problem. God, through Moses, rescues idol-worshiping slaves in the land of Oppression, which is that the Hebrew word for Egypt means. Their life was a tomb. God rescues them. Again, they did not have a book yet.
The Bible is not a law book. Torah properly means instruction, but it comes in three parts. By far the largest part is Haggadah, Hebrew for “Story,” not “Law.” “Halacha” means, “walk,” not law. Think of the forty-year walk of people who generally lived forty years. It is the walk-of-life. It is guidance on how to live, where “live” means more than basic subsistence, but about getting everyone in the tribe to the land of milk and honey, to the final cause, who is God. The closest word Hebrew has to law is “Cook.” That means “Precedent”, not “law” as we understand the term but the interpretation of Torah.
Many argue that Torah is perfect. Historians repeatedly report how the book contradicts itself and is not an accurate reflection of history. It is an accurate reflection of how four rabbinic schools interpreted history. In that sense, it is perfect. It perfectly reports how people saw history.
When we leave Mass on Easter Sunday, Jesus will tell us the same as he told the women at the tomb. Tell history, his story, your story, like the Samaritan woman, does, telling people how Jesus affects your life. Go out telling people how you saw Jesus in the readings and the Physical Presence of the Eucharist.
Hebrew has another important concept, Kavanagh. That means intention. The Samaritan woman drives the conversation, not Jesus. The women come to the tomb. He does not come to them.
“That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. It happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them”
If we want to see the Physical Presence, which is here regardless, we must engage with what we are hearing, hear and with people out in the street. When we do, Jesus will draw near to us. If we are better than the Samaritan women is, the women at the tomb, the people on Neal Road or Montello Avenue in Reno, or Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA, or Broad Street in Philadelphia, Congress Heights in D.C., we will not engage with them. If we do not engage with them, we will not find Jesus, period. Our priest shortage will continue because we do not look for them, period. They are still in the tomb of Egypt, and so are we.
Tell people why you are here. Is it because you see something happening here? Your rescue from oppression? Do you see the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Does Jesus play a role in your life? Tell them that.
That is what the Samaritan woman does. That is what the women who go to the tomb do. If you come to the afternoon Mass, you will find that is what the men who go to the battlefield of Emmaus do. They see something and come reporting what they saw to the disciples, no great insights, only what they saw. This converts the world.