Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places
On March 14, 2020 I was honored to lead a Lenten women’s retreat. Women from across the Vancouver and the Lower Mainland gathered to reflect on the beautiful gospel reading about the Woman at the Well. (John 4: 4-26)
St. Photine, a name the Eastern Catholic Church has given the woman who encountered Jesus at the well, was someone who deeply desired to be loved. Her heart ached to know and enter into an intimacy that would bring her the fulfillment and happiness she sought.
However she was challenged to find the depth of love she longed for from the men around her. After being married and divorced to five men, and now living with another at the time she met Jesus, she had convinced herself that the life she had was as good as it gets … a merry-go-round of love relationships that were empty and painful.
When the Lord re-told her story of love relationships, Photine was surprised and recognized that Jesus was a prophet. This changed her heart and she became awakened to a new possibility of love.
Was Jesus to become her 7th Spousal Lover?
Have you ever wondered why this story tells of six other men in Photine’s life? Why not two or five? Why six?
In my research I learned that scripture references the number seven over 700 times. It’s been used to signify completion or perfection such as the creation story where, after God created everything in the heavens and on earth in six days.
He rested on the seventh day. The number seven is also associated with fulfillment of promises or oaths. The Hebrew words Shaba (meaning swear an oath) and Sheba (meaning seven) come from the Hebrew word Saba (meaning satisfaction or fullness).
Photine knew scripture well. We know that by the way she challenges Jesus asking Him, “Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well…?” and when she said, “I know that the Messiah is coming and when he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”
Even though Photine knew the message of scripture in her mind sadly it by-passed her heart altogether. Her life shows us this. One marriage after another. Living with a man not her husband. Going to the well at noon fearing the ridicule and shame from others. Photine found herself in the same place we all can.
Is this not where every woman’s heart finds herself at some point in her life?
Jesus knew Photine. Better than she knew herself. And He knew that in order to help her heart know the truth of what His proposal was all about He had to speak to her in a way she could hear His voice.
Seven. The number of Perfection. The number of Satisfaction.
Jesus’ offer of living water that gushes up to eternal life was His proposal to become Photine’s 7th Spouse. Her Divine Lover and Bridegroom. The One who would give her perfect love and satisfaction that she desperately longed for.
When Jesus said, “I am He” Photine’s entire countenance shifted from despair to Hope! From sadness to Joy! From lies to Truth! And from discontent to Satisfaction. In that moment when she gave her YES to Him she entered into an intimacy of love that she had never known before.
This invitation that Jesus offers Photine is the SAME invitation that He offers you and me. We are invited to drink from the living water of Jesus that will satisfy the deepest thirst of our being. Will you open your heart to Him and say, YES!
Are you ready to believe Him who says to you, “I am He.” That courageous act of faith will be the opening of a flood gate that will gush living waters of intoxicating love from Him to you.
St Photine, pray for us so we can encounter Christ as the Perfect Divine Spousal Lover. Intercede with the Heavenly Bridegroom asking Him to pour His grace of life-giving water into our hearts so we too can experience the Hope, Joy, Satisfaction, and Truth that you found in Him. Amen.
Lifting you up in prayer,