Worshiping in Spirit and in Truth

There is a strong focus in the readings today on the living water that Christ wants to give us. It is greater than the water Moses obtains for the Israelites in the desert because this water is Christ Himself. The second part of the Gospel seems, though, to veer off onto another topic when our Lord speaks to the woman at the well about the importance of worshiping God. This, though, is not an aside at all. It is essential to what He is speaking about.

The living water that Christ will give is His Body and Blood, the Eucharist, which is all about worshiping Christ. Receiving the Eucharist is an act of worship. Often we think of receiving Holy Communion as what we “get out” of Mass, but this is not the right frame of reference. Rather, receiving Holy Communion is an act of worship by which we confess the greatness of God and our humble reliance upon Him. This is why receiving Holy Communion is always something to be done with the utmost reverence, with a spirit of profound thanksgiving for this incredible gift. Whenever we receive Holy Communion, our minds should be totally focused on Christ in worship of Him, not on vain and worldly thoughts.

Christ says today that “we worship what we understand.” In the early centuries, Christians had the choice to worship in one of two ways: their worship could be inspired either by the cult of the god Dionysus, known for its spirited revelries, or the cult of Apollo, known for its calm, focused, and rational worship. They decisively chose the latter. Christian worship is ordered and structured because Christianity is a religion of rationality. St. John, in the beautiful prologue to his Gospel, writes of Christ as “the Word,” which is to say, Christ is rationality itself.

Christian worship is thus sober and focused, ordered not to the satisfaction of men and women but rather towards the satisfaction of God through our humble service. This requires a lot of work on our part to fulfill our Lord’s teaching that we worship what we understand. We must strive better to understand God in His infinite mystery, always to be learning more about our Savior by studying the Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

Christ further tells us, “The Father seeks such people to worship Him.” You are being sought out by God the Father for this great act of worship, to grow in understanding of the most high God, and to offer your life to Him in rational, ordered, sober, and humble worship.

Rev. Royce V. Gregerson
St. Francis Chapel, University of St. Francis
Mass broadcast on television