Most of you know by now that before starting my placement here at Maroochydore Parish I spent 17 days in Rome on pilgrimage with the Holy Spirit Seminary.
These days in Rome were anything but a holiday or spiritual tour, they were a tough grind. Although, the trip did have holiday and spiritual aspects to it!
Most of our days were spent on our feet walking from one basilica or church to another. Stopping momentarily at a local watering hole (Italian restaurant) to replenish our weary pilgrim bodies.
One of the highlights of the trip that did not consist of a church-related facility was going out to a pub or restaurant with the brothers to quench our thirst after a long day. It was the perfect opportunity to relax and debrief. Also, more importantly, it was the perfect opportunity to meet people from around the world or befriend one of the many lovely waiters/waitresses.
We specifically told some of the people we met during these times that we were studying to be priests, and had great conversations about Church related matters, and other times we just simply tried to be genuine good blokes. In other words, there were times that we specifically engaged in evangelisation and other times being a witness was enough. When I close my eyes and try to imagine what a modern day version of ancient wells were like, this is the sort of image that comes to mind.
Deacon Isaac Falzon
Who are the Samaritans?
In this weekend’s Gospel we hear about the well-known story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Littered throughout the Gospel are stories about Samaritans. Most people only know Samaritans from the Bible, or as a charity for the emotionally vulnerable or as the name of an order of nuns. But the Samaritans were once a sizable community and several hundred of them still exist today.
The Samaritans, like Jews, trace their lineage to Abraham. But the enslavement of the Jews by the Babylonians complicated matters. The Samaritans claim that, after returning from Babylon, Jews forgot their early customs. Several hundred thousand Samaritans lived in the Holy Land at the time of Christ. But a war with the Byzantines, between 529 AD and 531 AD, decimated their population. The subsequent arrival of Islam depleted their numbers further; most ethnic Samaritans are now pious Muslims. At the last count, in 2019, there were only 812 Samaritans remaining.
Their gene pool is dangerously shallow. Young Samaritans have converted to Judaism in order to marry, since the religion prohibits unions with outsiders. Moreover, becoming a Samaritan is a big commitment. For those few Samaritans who endure, protecting pre-captivity traditions is central to their culture.