Counting Baals

Dear Parishioners,

The account of the Samaritan woman at the well from the Gospel of John—the third Sunday of Lent's Gospel—is an interesting one. Jesus knows that the woman has had five different husbands. The woman is floored. Seems odd. Any gossip in town would know this juicy piece of information. So why is the woman led to divine faith by the information our Messiah possesses?

John, our Gospel writer, usually tries to make some broader connection to the Old Testament in his passages. The word Baal in the Old Testament means false god. You may remember this word. The Israelites often got in trouble for abandoning God and worshipping Baal. But Baal had another meaning as well. Wives sometimes also used the world Baal for their husbands. Jesus is telling this woman she had five different Baals. Well, Samaria—the woman's homeland—was occupied by a foreign power who worshipped five Baals. And there was a prediction in the first chapter of Hosea that Samaria would be delivered from these five Baals after 700 hundred years by the Messiah, and this was the 700th year! The woman makes this connection, which is why Jesus' information leads her to become a disciple.

There are two lessons to take from this little explanation. God is always looking to help us grow in self-knowledge. The more we know about ourselves and are aware of who we are, the better our relationship with God will be. When you come into a deeper self-awareness, know that God is at work.

The second lesson would be that when you come to the deeper awareness, and the corresponding awareness that Jesus is alive and real and worth following, do what the Samaritan did and go tell people about it! Jesus is so good. We don't want to keep him for ourselves. Your witness can help the faith of others, and, who knows, perhaps you could "count" that as your Lenten activity!

We are continuing to accept applications for new school board members. Please consider lending your talents for the betterment of our school! More information, a job description and links to application forms can be found in my letter on the school blog here. Please contact me if you have any questions, and feel free to invite another individual who could help our school and parish. Our school is at a very critical point in its existence, particularly with a new principal arriving, so your help will be very significant.

In keeping with theme of advancing our school, we have established a School Parent Ambassador Program. Fellow parents can be the best advertisers for a school, whether it's word of mouth, monitoring social media outlets, giving a tour for a prospective family, or a veteran family of our school mentoring a new family. Parent Ambassadors will help tremendously not just our recruitment and enrollment, but also the culture of our school and parish. Joanna Drzich has graciously agreed to head the Parent Ambassador Team. If you are interested in helping in any way, please reach out to her or myself.

Next Saturday, March 25th is our school play. Students are performing The Lion King. Shows will be at 2pm and 7pm. Thank you to all the students and parents involved in our fine arts. I'll try not to cry when Mufasa is killed at the beginning, though I can't make any promises to not shout out ‘Hukana Matata’.

Our parish pastoral council will meet tomorrow, Monday the 20th, in the parish center. This is an exciting time for St. Juliana Parish. I'm grateful to the pastoral council for helping me with the vision for our parish and for ideas that will take us to the next level of vitality!

Yours in Christ,
Father James

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