Roots of Creative Fidelity - OL- GS Carisma

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In several recent television documentaries, one theme which kept re-emerging was the lack of faithfulness in the marriage relationships of political leaders in different countries.  What was most striking was the sense of public shame and betrayal felt by the spouses, who in very difficult circumstances   remained faithful to their husbands.  Perhaps, it would be truer to say that they remained faithful to themselves as women committed to loving and serving their respective countries.

This experience is in total contrast to the absolute assurance we can have in God’s fidelity to us and to all the cosmos, which God holds in being and continually recreates. We see the extent to which God is committed to loving and cherishing the people of Israel and all of creation, in the covenants which God made with Noah, Abraham and Moses. The prophets also, and particularly Hosea (11:1-4), express this fidelity in the warm and tender terms of lover and mother.   

The basis for our unshakable trust in God’s fidelity flowing from the incarnation is summed up in a very succinct way in the first letter of St. John: "In this is love; not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:10)    This is the fidelity which in Hebrew is called "emurah" and expresses the "solidity" on which we can definitely count:  God who is absolutely faithful, absolutely patient.

Fidelity involves a relationship where there is reciprocity and mutual trust and the confidence of a mutual commitment.  Our awareness of God’s initiative in loving us unconditionally and always, calls us to respond in faithfully returning love for love.  Our inward fidelity to being the persons God has called us to be, and our trust in God’s fidelity to us, is outwardly expressed in living according to Gospel values and the teachings of the Church.

What feelings spring up in you when you reflect on God’s fidelity?

Bring these feelings to prayer and ask God to deepen your appreciation of this fidelity.

It is important to remember that when we speak of fidelity, we are not talking about a "static" fidelity, a fidelity to the letter of the law or wanting to keep things always the same.   We are taking about a dynamic or creative fidelity.  The term "creative fidelity" is taken from the French Catholic existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel
, who struggled to find the meaning of fidelity in interpersonal relationships, while honouring the messy unpredictability of life.
In living in creative fidelity we are trying to live an attitude of trust that is extended over time with all the changes that entails.  God created us as co-creators of the persons we can become, through the choices we make in our progressive journey into greater freedom.  Thus to be faithful we need to be creative and embrace the changes in ourselves and in those with whom we are in relationship and in the world in which we live.  Creative fidelity is a living process.  It has to do with the gift of being and becoming.  It is to be faithful to our inner being and our evolving becoming. St. Catherine of Siena says it beautifully: "Be who God has called you to be and you will be able to set the world on fire."

To help explore the process of creative fidelity to being and becoming who we are called to be, we invite you to read the account of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  (John 4: 5-30)

The well brings together two people who develop an important relationship: the Samaritan woman, who is ostracized by the neighbours, and to avoid them comes at the hottest time of the day to get water on her own; and Jesus who is tired,  and lets the disciples go shopping on their own.

Neither of them expected to find someone else at the well.  The woman is even more amazed that he a Jew, who should not associate with Samaritans and a woman, would ask her for a drink. Jesus opened the conversation with a good ice-breaker!  The first word of her reply "what" could be extended to "what do you think you’re at?" Thus begins the ping pong backwards and forwards conversation between them.  

The initial dialogue is about the practical challenge of getting water if one has not planned to bring some receptacle for it. Jesus draws her in deeper, touching into a more profound thirst by talking to her about living water.  She sees how useful this would be as she would not be organizing her day to come stealthily to the well in the scorching heat.

When Jesus helps to evoke the truth of the Samaritan woman’s marital situation, it seems to liberate her and it begins to dawn on her that he might be some kind of prophet.   Her statement to him that she knows that when the Messiah who is the Christ comes he will tell us all things, evokes a clear and simple assertion from Jesus: "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."  This is part of Jesus’ revelation of his divine identity in John.

Thus we see that they help one another discover the truth of who each of them is.  Jesus is given the space and reciprocity to articulate clearly who he is.  Through her relationship with him, the woman feels liberated and leaving the water jar returns to her city. She loses her fear of what the neighbours think of her.   She confidently faces the people, inviting them to come and see this man who had brought her back to herself and whom she thinks could be the Messiah. She feels missioned and responds unhesitatingly.

The movement towards the "more" which is one of the fundamental principles of the new story of the universe plays itself out also in our individual human lives. We are always in process and evolving towards this "more".  This explains the interior thirst which we carry inside us, where  we never seem to be satisfied and experience a certain sense of restlessness.  

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman shows that the call to being who we are is something progressive and unfolds gradually, often in unexpected ways.   It calls us to the truth of who we are and to the "more" that we can become.    Often it is the events of life, our interaction with others and their needs that draw us into a deeper place in ourselves, and at the same time outwards towards others and the cosmos.  We need to stay open if we want to hear the depths of the new call in our changing circumstances and the different seasons of our lives. It is in contemplation and dialogue that we come to know the "more" to which we are being called.

Imagine yourself by the well with Jesus.

Talk to him of the thirst for God in your heart right now.

Listen as he draws you towards the "more" you can become.

I will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness. (Ps. 138:2)

If you wish, you can go into Supplementary Tools to deepen your reflection with photos, videos etc.

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