Brother Max: The Food of the Weary

Published 1:05 am Saturday, July 1, 2023

“My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.”

In this passage taken from Chapter Four of St. John’s Gospel, we read about Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, as He rests on His journey from Judea to Galilee. From this passage, we can glean some spiritual wisdom about how to draw profit from our own day-to-day weariness, instead of getting bogged down in exhaustion, which is magnified by self-pity and self-focus and leads to depression.

Although Divine, Jesus had a thoroughly human nature and a thoroughly human body. He, like us, experienced the defeated feeling of being tired, with a heavy heart. There are many different causes for us today: early working hours, small children that have been up at night, inability to sleep even when we have the opportunity, or simply too much work and too little time. How did Jesus, Who is God Himself, draw benefit from His weariness? How did He use it for the glory of His Father?  

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Even in His tiredness, He was focused on others. When seated on Jacob’s well, resting, foot-weary, from His journey, He took the occasion, not to focus on the exhaustion of His body, but to have a conversation and reveal Himself as the Savior to the Samaritan woman who came to the well for water. “The woman saith to Him: I know that the Messiah cometh (who is called Christ)…. Jesus saith to her: I am He, who am speaking with thee.”

When His disciples finally came back with the food and urged Him to eat, He said to them, “I have meat to eat, which you know not. The disciples therefore said one to another, Hath any man brought Him to eat? Jesus saith to them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me….” This brings out a particular aspect of Our Lord’s response to bodily tiredness. His focus, His goal, His very sustenance, was to do the will of God. His love for the Father’s will was His reason for action, even when His body felt worn down. With the grace of God, this can be our response to being tired, too.

This response doesn’t take away our own tiredness but turns it to good use and profit for our soul. This tiredness is one of the consequences of original sin that we must bear. Accepting our exhaustion is one of the best ways of doing penance for our sins, “Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish”(Lk, 13:3).  After all, it is one of the punishments that God Himself decreed for Adam’s sin: “In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread” (Gen, 3:19). But still we must also remember with hope the words of Our Lord, “Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will give rest to your souls” (Mt. 11:28).