Third Sunday of Lent
"Come see a man who told me everything..." (Jn. 4:4:42)
The woman's invitation in John's gospel narrative of the Woman at the Well always captivates me. Stirred by her evangelical method, I realize that when bringing people to know Jesus, you must first encounter Jesus personally. The woman in our gospel had a very lengthy conversation with Jesus. They did not haggle over traditions. They did not let cultural differences interfere with their conversation. Nor did gender become a source of contention, especially when Jesus asked the woman for water at the well.
I see similar aspects in the life of Servant of God Mother Mary Lange. Lange and her friend Magdaline Balas did the unthinkable in the 1820s. These bold ladies started a free school for blacks when reading and writing was against the law in Maryland, a slave-holding state. However, a priest, Father James Joubert, imitated Jesus. Like Jesus, who saw something special in the woman at the well, Father Joubert looked beyond racial features and cultural differences and saw the catechetical skills in these two women. He envisioned opening a school for Black girls, and Lange and Magdaline could make the dream a reality. They became co-workers in the vineyard to teach colored girls about the Catholic faith. Later, Mary Elizabeth Lange and Magdaline entered religious life, worshipping Jesus in Spirit and Truth. Mother Lange became the first superior of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in 1829.
I can see Servant of God Mother Mary Lange standing at the foot of the steps when the school first opened. She perhaps sent out an invitation similar to the woman at the well, "Come see a man who told me everything ..." (Jn. 4:29). The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 194 years later, still invite children of color to their school with that profound invitation, "Come see a man who told me everything." During this Lenten season, let's send out this special invitation, "Come see a man who told me everything," to our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, Facebook friends, and anyone who will listen.
Who will you invite to church this week?
Author: Evang./Prof. Michael Howard, MACS,
Facilitator, University of Dayton, VLCFF,
The University of Notre Dame, McGrath Institute, STEP Online,
Lead Faculty and Course Designer "The Presence of Black Catholics in the Church Today and Tomorrow" Loyola Marymount University,
Founder of Eat the Scroll Ministry