Give me a drink
“I am a drinker with a writing problem.” Brendan Behan, Irish Author from Dublin
It is one hundred and eighty-one steps from the front door of my parent’s house to the front door of the local pub. It’s a well-travelled path as my Dad made this journey almost everyday at least twice a day. The pub was not only his watering hole it was his well. Dad went from walking over under his own power, to walking with a stick, to walking with a frame, but he was a determined man. As my Da got older he was less sure in his walking, and standing, and he found it difficult to negotiate steps and small spaces. He became anxious when in crowds because he was afraid of falling. When he got older Dad didn’t go to Mass that often, not because he wasn’t religious, he was very pious, but because Mass has many moving parts, standing, sitting, kneeling, walking to Holy Communion, narrow pews and spaces, and lots of moving people. Our local parish priest, Fr. Brendan, would bring him Holy Communion every Friday and hear his confession. At the pub, on the other hand, Da could sit at the bar, secure, safe, and still be surrounded by his friends, neighbors, and family. This was his local well where he could have something to drink. Drinking in this case was not about “the drink” but about the “accompaniment,” of others.
In the time of Jesus the well was the place of meeting, encounter, conversation and community. The women, for the most part, went in the morning to get water for the day. They went in the morning because it was cooler then. It is a sign that the Samaritan women was an outcast because she had to go to get water in the heat of the day – when there was no possibility that she would meet or encounter others. The woman who is completely alone, abandoned, without companions, is now going to have the encounter of her life. Jesus says to the Samaritan woman “give me a drink.” In this moment, in this gesture, Jesus changes her life. And she, the outcast, gives the one who is the water of life, water.
The woman gives Jesus a drink. How beautiful is that. She gives Him a drink.
I am very fortunate as a pastor, to see such acts of generosity every day here at our parishes, and most importantly, in the lives and homes of our parishioners. The incredible amount of generosity in time, talent and treasure is actually, staggering. All sorts of encounters that change lives.
Over the last few months, I have quietly dropped into different parish activities just to see and soak in the atmosphere. Saturday mornings, and sometime during the week, I drop by the gyms to visit with the parents and kids playing basketball, volleyball, preparing for the musical, already baseball practices is beginning and in the Fall I mingled with the football crowds, coaches, players, and parents. All energy, all enthusiastic, all engaged, all building a community. I have attended meetings at all the parishes, seen all the good work that so many people put in to making ministry happen, donating food, clothing, and resources for the poor, parishioners keeping their church and environments beautiful, and I see, every day, dedication and energy and a joy in belonging. The schools are amazing places of energy and creativity and, it seems to me, joy.
These last few weeks I have watched the children as they prepare for the musical. Their excitement, commitment, hard work, talent, dedication, is inspirational. They put in long hours at rehearsals, costume fittings, set design and building, and they do so with such joy and happiness. They are accompanied by adults, parents, grandparents, and talented parishioners who help make it all happen building, painting, making costumes, selling tickets, teaching lines, choreography, dance, music the list of work is endless. This phenomenon of engagement is not unique to the musical, it is manifested in almost everything our children are involved in. Our kids and parents are incredible.
I see the same level of enthusiasm all around our parishes. So many people willing to be at the service of others. Every day there are people cleaning churches, tending flower beds, painting walls, teaching RCIA and CCD, teaching in the schools, practicing singing, music, seasonal decorating, ministering as ushers, greeters, lectors and distributing Holy Communion, serving for the good of the Sacred Liturgy and the Worship of God, praying in Adoration, saying the rosary, coaching all kinds of sports, serving the food pantry, providing meals for the community to gather around, protecting unborn life, visiting hospitals and the homebound, fundraising, serving on committees and planning for the future. People contributing from the little they have to make sure that the mission goes forward. If this is not giving a drink to the Lord, I don’t know what is.
And it’s not only in the parishes where this happens, most important of all, I see this same attitude of generosity and charity in the lives and homes of our people. The home is the most important place in a child’s life and parents are the most important people who, through their lives, character, words, and actions teach what it means to be generous and respond to the request of the Lord “give me something to drink.” I see the quality of our kids, their good nature, lively spirit, generosity, joy, and the care they take of each other, their commitment to our parishes and schools, and it makes me aware that their parents and families are doing a great job.
My Da loved to be with his community, his wife and children, his family and friends, a kind and compassionate priest, and his pub buddies. But, equally important, they loved being with him and they provided him with a place to be and a community to belong to. He was never going to be alone, or unaccompanied. Our parishes are a well where we encounter Jesus, we encounter others, and we offer “a drink” to the thirsty and support each other with our love. Now that is a well worth visiting, that’s water worth having. Thank you to all who so generously make our parishes great communities. The Lord asks, “give me something