I am sure I have told some of you this before. Every year, I make an annual eight day retreat. I make it with a wonderful priest in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His name is Msgr. Essef and he is a priest of the Diocese of Scranton. He is also their exorcist. Not only is he their exorcist, but he has a very mystical life. He was Mother Teresa’s Spiritual Director and Confessor. He would go around the entire world leading the nuns in her order (The Missionaries of Charity) on retreat. His director was Padre Pio (Saint Pio). One of the gifts that Msgr. Essef has, that Padre Pio had, is the gift to read souls.
I remember when I first went to see him. I was a little bit terrified that he was going to see something in my soul that was just really bad. I remember being nervous about it. The amazing thing is, the first time I met with him, he could read my soul. He looked at me with nothing but love. Even the worst sins I had and was most afraid of, I didn’t even have to bring up to him. He looked at those too with nothing but love. It was an amazing experience for me to have been revealed before someone. Even the part of me that was the most shameful or most afraid, or most hidden, was reverenced and was seen with love.
I bring this story up today because I believe that this is what the woman at the well experienced. The woman at the well had five husbands. Jesus goes on to tell her “Even the one you have now is not really your husband.” He reveals to her He already knows what she’s going through. He already knows that she’s had five husbands. She sits down next to Him. Before you know it, she comes to this realization that He knows everything about her. Everything. That’s the first thing she says when she goes out into the town. She says, “Come meet a man that told me everything about myself.” The wonderful thing about it is she was rejoicing in that. She was rejoicing that there was this prophet, this man that nothing was hidden from. Not only was nothing hidden from Him, but He looked at her with great love.
I think about that. Where He met her at the well is so significant. The well symbolizes the emptiness, the thirst that we all have. We have this longing and we try to fill it in a lot of unhealthy ways, whether that be food or sexual things, or addictions. We have a well that we’re constantly trying to fill. I love that it’s right there that Jesus meets her. It’s at her base desire to satisfy her thirst. He meets her right at the well. I would like you to think about that for a moment. What is your well? What is the place in your life that you find this unquenchable longing or thirst? What is that sin in your life that you have been struggling with for so long or maybe have been afraid to reveal in Confession? It’s right there that Jesus meets you. The wonderful thing is that if you allow Him to meet you there or if you go to the well, you will experience nothing but unconditional love.
That’s one of the things I love about the Sacrament of Confession. When people come to Confession, I think oftentimes some people are afraid to reveal their sin. Even people who know me and come face-to-face say “Father, I don’t know if I want to say this to you.” They say “You are going to think differently about me.” When they bring up whatever that sin is, I know in my heart I have only experienced more love for that person. I only see them with more love because they had both the courage and the trust in me as a priest to bring up whatever that sin was. Ultimately, that’s how God treats sin. That’s how God treats whatever your thirst is. He’s waiting right there.
That’s why I like the image of the priest in the confessional with the red light on – God is just waiting there for you. Jesus is waiting right there in that Sacrament. Ultimately, the only way that we can have our well fulfilled is right here. It is right at the Eucharist we receive, the Body and the Blood of Christ. It’s a reflection back to the First Reading when Moses was commanded to strike the rock. He struck the rock and from the rock gushed water. The same thing happened when Jesus died on the cross. The centurion struck His side and He gushed water and blood. Right here, at this well, His water and His blood are flowing for you. He knows you. He knows everything about you. He knows your sin. He knows your longing. And above all that, He loves you. Come to Him and just allow Him to meet you at your well.