Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fault Finding: A Useless Enterprise

One of our common human afflictions is continually finding fault with one another.  John 4:26-42 recounts the second half of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman's meeting at the well of Jacob.  After she and Jesus have their little back-and-forth about living water and genuine worship, the Apostles return to the scene after making a lunch-run in Sychar.  When they see Jesus with, horror of horrors, a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that, their discreetness only thinly veils their fault-finding with Jesus over his "breach" of cultural purity.  John's point, however, is that our task isn't to find fault with one another, but to find God and be found by God, and enable others to do the same.  

Each of us could ponder for a few minutes and call to mind someone or several someones within the past six months or a year somewhat like the Samaritan woman: a person whom we've judged by appearances; someone with whom, silently or aloud, we've found fault.  John's story is a reminder to us of how idle an activity that is.  Even more important, how dangerous, how wrong, it is for us to ever presume to write anyone off on the basis of perceived or even real faults.  In receiving, totally undeserved, the cleansing, "living water" of Baptism, we've pledged ourselves to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and [to] respect the dignity of every human being..."  As we live more deeply into the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection in this time of Lent, we recommit ourselves more firmly to that pledge.

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