The Samaritan Woman and Sr. Cristina #suorcristina

Samaritan woman with Jesus

Over the past few days, I am sure that most of you have seen the wonderful and energetic musical performance from Sr. Cristina on the Italian version of ‘The Voice’. For those who are not familiar with it, ‘The Voice’ is a singing competition where the judges listen to the person singing without being able to see them, so that they will be judged based on their voice and not on their appearance or their fashion sense etc.  Well, Sr. Cristina had the four judges competing for her as all of them turned around. J- Ax, an Italian rapper, was visibly moved on more than one ocassion when he saw that the fantastic voice belonged to a young habited sister who was not afraid to belt out a song. He joked with her saying: "If I had found you at Mass I would always be in church and then added: "You and me are like the devil and holy water."

I couldn’t help but think of today’s Gospel and the theme of Jesus as the Living Water. Jesus comes to a town of Samaria called Sychar and meets a Samaritan woman. Jesus is thirsty and asks for a drink. “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman," she reminded him. "How can you ask me for a drink?" (John 4:9). She focused on the law; Jesus focused on grace. However Jesus offers her living water so she will never thirst. What an offer! Of course, she wanted whatever he was offering, but only so she could avoid returning to the well for water. Jesus had so much to offer her, free and unconditional.

        (make sure you turn on the captions to get the benefit of the dialogue with the judges!)

I showed the clip of Sr. Cristina to one of my friends here. His reaction was that Sister’s participation in such a secular competition as ‘The Voice’ was testimony to the fact that God belongs there in the competition. Yes, God belongs on ‘The Voice’. God belonged at the well where the Samaritan woman was drawing water. God belonged in the desert when the people grumbled against Moses because they are thirsty and lack water. Today, we need to have the courage to say that God belongs in our schools, our homes, our workplaces, our government. In a way, Sr. Cristina who through her visible witness as a Bride of Christ, invites people to seek for the living water which quenches, living water that only Christ provides. I think one of the reason that J-Ax was so moved was that in front of him, he had a beautiful, young and joyful woman, consecrated to God who oozed the joy of living for Christ and was not afraid to proclaim him, to quote Pope Francis and his message of evangelisation, or to show that her relationship with Jesus was living and real and normal! She didn’t need to be scantily clad to ‘sell’ her talent. It was as it is, no frills, no make-up, no masks. Maybe Sr. Cristina made the judges think what are they thirsting for in life…is it fame, money, success or is there something deeper to long for?

Like each of our brothers and sisters, we need to acknowledge that we are thirsty. On the Cross, Jesus himself cried out: “I thirst”. It was a basic human need which needed to be fulfilled. Why though is it so hard for us to vocalise basic needs: “I thirst”, “I am afraid”, “I hunger?” Or to satisfy others basic needs of being understood, forgiven, listened to, encouraged. How much does it cost us to say ‘thank you’, or ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘well done’? What a difference this could make to our society if we used these little phrases more often. It could help irrigate the barreness of our society which longs for peace, love, mercy and life. We can't deny that we all have desert moments, when we are desperate for a spring in the middle of the wilderness, water to green our withering spirits. The aridity may seem depressing and hopeless but the oasis in the desert is always there.

Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew the gift of God … " (John 4:10).When Sr. Cristina was asked why she was on the show, she answered: “I have a gift and I gift it to you”. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, used the hashtag #suorcristina in a tweet Thursday, commending her for sharing her talent with the Italian people: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others (1 Peter 4:10)”. So on this third Sunday of Lent, we can ask ourselves, for what are you spiritually thirsty? What is the life-giving gift that you can share with others?