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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Special Call to Conversion
Fr Alvaro Corcuera’s Lent letter reflects on Christ’s interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well.

samaritan woman
"The sensitive, loving, and yet demanding way he treats this woman is a constant source of inspiration for each one of us."

March 17, 2011. In this year’s Lent letter, Fr Alvaro Corcuera focuses on our mission as apostles, highlighting three actions by which Christ shows his love for the Samaritan woman at the well: he awakens her thirst for God, responds to her existential questions, and accompanies her through the process of her conversion. 

“These three attitudes—awaken, respond, accompany—are not three successive moments in time or independent steps, but three dimensions of the same mission, three manifestations of a single love,” writes Fr Alvaro.

An English translation of the letter is presented below and in pdf format.


Thy Kingdom Come!



Rome, March 9, 2011

To the members and friends of Regnum Christi
as we begin Lent

Dear friends in Christ:

As in previous years, I would like to take advantage of the start of Lent to write to you and be with you through these words.

This liturgical season, and also the historical period in which we are living, are a special call to conversion, to turn our gaze back to Christ, to be more like him and to live in greater self-giving to our brothers and sisters. The Church invites us to put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (cf. Col. 3:12). Our Christian life in Regnum Christi is a vocation to love. We seek to be and live as apostles at all times, giving ourselves, seeking the ultimate good of others as people redeemed and loved by God.

The passage on Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman, which the Church presents to us this year on the third Sunday of Lent (cf. Jn. 4:5-42) can help us with this reflection. There are many lessons we can draw from Jesus‟ example for our life as apostles. The sensitive, loving, and yet demanding way he treats this woman is a constant source of inspiration for each one of us. Regnum Christi hopes that all of its members will let themselves be transformed by Christ in such a way that by their lifestyle they allow others to see that life is beautiful and achieves its fullness in personal contact with Christ. Thus, I believe that, following the Lord’s example, our love for each person can be translated into three fundamental attitudes that we can draw from this Gospel passage: awaken, respond, and accompany.

1. Awaken

Christ turns up and questions the Samaritan woman; we could say that he awakens her thirst for God. “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (Jn. 4:10). We all carry in the very depths of our being that yearning for God that permeates our entire life, and we feel called to share with our brothers and sisters this deeply felt desire to live in God and for God who “thirsts for our faith and our love. As a good and merciful father, he wants our total, possible good, and this good is he himself. The Samaritan woman, on the other hand, represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what he seeks. She had ‘five husbands’ and now she lives with another man; her going to and from the well to draw water expresses a repetitive and resigned life. However, everything changes for her that day, thanks to the conversation with the Lord Jesus, who upsets her to the point that she leaves her pitcher of water and runs to tell the villagers: ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’” (Jn 4:29). (Benedict XVI, Angelus of February 24, 2008).

We are called to collaborate with the Church in this mission, especially in the work of the new evangelization. In this sense, it is very significant that the Holy Father wished to institute a new dicastery to help him drive this effort forward, and that the next ordinary assembly of the synod of bishops will also be on this topic. It is imperative to awaken the faith and the thirst for God that our brothers and sisters carry inside!

2. Respond

Jesus awakens the Samaritan woman’s curiosity and her desire for a water that she has not yet experienced, but that can slake her thirst and spare her the toilsome need to go to the well every day. How does he do it? Jesus delicately reminds her of her own lifestyle: “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (cf. vv. 17-18). And as he reminds her of that situation, he makes her reflect interiorly and discover that such a path will never fulfill her longing for true happiness. Jesus capitalizes on the moment to give her an answer: “He spoke of a ‘living water’ able to quench her thirst and become in her ‘a spring of water welling up to eternal life’; in addition, he demonstrated that he knew her personal life; he revealed that the hour has come to adore the one true God in spirit and truth; and lastly, he entrusted her with something extremely rare: that he is the Messiah” (Benedict XVI, idem). Who could live the same after a personal encounter with Jesus? It is the experience that St. Peter had when, in spite of his doubts and weaknesses, he exclaimed, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68) or St. Paul, who one day wrote, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

Our mission as apostles cannot be reduced to passing on just ideas or mere doctrinal content. These are necessary but insufficient to respond to people’s existential questions. Our way of living should be an answer that satisfies such questions. Yes, our witness of Christian life should show that it is possible to find happiness and plenitude in Christ, and that he is the only definitive answer. Nothing better can happen to us in life than helping others to discover the love of Jesus, his humility that fills us with peace, his affection and gentleness that soften the heart and lighten troubles. There is nothing better than helping others to experience the goodness of Jesus, which is a balsam, a source of joy; teaching men that following Christ produces personal coherency and authenticity, the soul’s true freedom. He gives us wings to keep heaven always in view and not to get lost in the means; he makes us walk with him day and night, although we often do not see the goal of the path: being with him, loving him and letting ourselves be loved by him is like having already arrived to the end goal.

Our Christian commitment pushes us to be a reflection of God’s infinite love for mankind. In his Lenten message for this year, the Pope tells us, “Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.” We seek to be converted so that we can be faithful instruments of grace and lead others to find Christ. This is the response Christ expects from us.

3. Accompany

At the end of the passage we are contemplating, we see that Jesus changed his plans and stayed in the town two days more than he had intended (cf. v. 40). No doubt he did it to complete the work he had begun in the soul of that woman and her neighbors. A personal encounter with Christ is usually not confined to one fleeting moment but rather is a gradual and continual process. Thus, love for our brothers and sisters leads us to accompany and guide them on that path. We accompany the people in our lives so that they can say, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this [Jesus] is truly the savior of the world” (v. 42). Jesus teaches us to reach out to heal our brother’s wounds, even though we ourselves are full of wounds; to bear with one another, to share sorrows and joys. It is the authentic compassion of the one who forgets his own fatigue and burdens so as to alleviate and accompany his neighbor.

If we want Regnum Christi to continue being a path of conversion and sanctification for many souls, our apostolic action must always aim to accompany, guide, and foster in each man and woman the desire to set out on the path to meet God, just as Christ did with the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s Well. Many spiritual authors propose the image of man as a traveler whose origin and ultimate goal is God. Each person is personally, freely called to move toward the transformative encounter with him who revealed himself to us in Christ. God’s grace impels us from within, and the action of the Church helps us with the Word and the sacraments. Our brothers and sisters support and accompany us. But ultimately, it is each one of us who must step forward, and no one can take our place in that effort.

These three attitudes—awaken, respond, accompany—are not three successive moments in time or independent steps, but three dimensions of the same mission, three manifestations of a single love. With our reason, heart, and will, we perceive the love of God and thus, in that deep interior unity, we seek to respond in the same currency. Love is repaid with love.

May we never cease seeking each day to drink the water that Christ wishes to give us in prayer and in personal contact with him in the Eucharist. Let us not forget that while we accompany our brothers and sisters, we ourselves are walking the same path, needing God’s grace and each other’s support. I also invite you to pray very much for Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, our papal delegate, so that the Holy Spirit will continue enlightening him in his work of guiding us on this path of renewal and purification that we are walking together as a family.

May the Blessed Virgin bless and accompany you always.

Your servant in Christ,
Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC



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