The Closeness of God

Wednesday November 16, 2022 – OSU Tertianship Opening Mass

Philippians 4:4 – 9

“Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everyone. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honourable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire — with whatever is good and praiseworthy. Keep doing everything you learned from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

John 4:1-14

“When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had found out that he was making and baptising more disciples than John – though in fact it was his disciples who baptised, not Jesus himself – he left Judaea and went back to Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria. On the way he came to the Samaritan town called Sychar near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me something to drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?’ — Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied to her: If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me something to drink,’ you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water. ‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered, ‘and the well is deep: how do you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied: Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; but no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.”


In the Gospel we see “Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well”.  Like us in all things he also gets weary and need to rest and refresh himself.  I guess that reminds us that we all need to rest from time to time.  Tertianship is a rest time.  A time of Sabbath for renewal and finding out what nourishes and deepens life.  I imagine you will spend these months doing many things, among them you will have the opportunity to spend some quality time with Jesus. No doubt doing this, will renew your original sense of vocation, his love for you, your love for him. May it be a time in which you find yourself face to face with him at the well of your own life, a place where he can give you, and only he can give you, “the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.”  what a beautiful opportunity you have.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians we heard, “The Lord is near.” When we have a sense of the closeness of God so many things come into perspective. We see what is needed and what is not.  We realise that our worry and fretting is just a sign of our lack of trust in the providence of God.  I lived for 12 years as a hermit – a solitary contemplative life – the constant message I received was, “Hand your life over to me and I will provide all you need.”  I lived a long way from shops or other people.  I ran out of food one day but when i walked up to the postal box I found a carton full of food addressed to me.  In my prayer I heard, “I told you I would look after you”.  So never worry about anything.  Matthew 6:33-34 says, “Set your hearts on God first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself.   What a wonderful thing to know that God is so near, an office to us so much.

To the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus says, “If you only knew what God is offering.” I think that this would be true for all of us as we approach times of Sabbath in our lives. We know there is an opportunity before us, but we do not always realise what God is offering to us. Therefore, it is extremely important that we keep an open mind, and an open heart, and an open will before God, so that God can reach into our lives and embrace us with love as only God knows we need. There may be moments in which God desires to bring healing to those experiences we have had in which we have known pain or bitterness or injustice. And it is important that we come to such a time open and willing and ready to go with God where God leads us.  Healing brings freedom and liberation.  We see Jesus does this for the Samaritan woman. He touches the pain of her life, the isolation she feels from the community, and her history with many men, and enables her to find the freedom to return to her village and proclaim the Messiah is near.  Yes, indeed God is very near. 

You will also no doubt explore together the richness of the charism oh S. Angela and S. Ursula.  You will listen to many people and the enriched by many stories. You will have a chance to explore Rome and the place is important to Saint Angela.  There will be so many opportunities for you to take, a rich banquet placed before you for you to choose from and be nourished by. So, when this comes before you, be like the Samaritan woman who saw and recognised who it was that was asking for a drink. Embrace it with eagerness. Embrace it with joy. Embrace it with anticipation.

Let us celebrate the closeness of God to us, and the water of life that he offers us. May this time of tertianship be for you a rich blessing of God’s closeness. His affirmation to you of his love for you. His longing for you to spend time with him at the well of your life.