Saturday, March 26, 2011

Third Sunday of Lent A: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Third Sunday of Lent Year A: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Exod 17:3-7; Ps 95:1-2.6-9; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8 and John 4:5-42

Christ, the Living Water

Today is another special day of joy in our Parish Community. We are happily gathered to thirst for God, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, to share the Word of God and the Gifts of Christ, the Living Water, as we journey through Lent. The gifts of Christ, his love, his power of cleansing and forgiveness, his patience and understanding, his friendliness with all, his spiritual refreshments that we might worship God in  faith, spirit and truth, stand out in today’s Bible Lessons.

In the Second Reading Paul dwells on the important virtues of hope, faith and particularly on the greatest , LOVE, which Christ has poured into our heart and has shown us in different ways in being forgiving, in being compassionate to everyone most especially by accepting to travel to the Cross on our behalf. Paul says, “God proves his love for us in that while were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

This love is hidden in the unique love God showed Israelite while liberating them through the wilderness of hunger.  In the face of starvation He provided bread for them in the desert. When they were thirsty complaining to Moses for water, God was there for them (Exod 17:3-17). He directed Moses on how to extract refreshing water for them from the Rock.

This symbol of a refreshing God, a God of love, a God who is patient with us , God who satisfy our thirst, listens to us, nourishes us, dialogue with us irrespective of who we are,  is heighten in the  Johnnine Gospel narrative of the Encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman ( John 4:5-42).

We are told in this symbolic and spiritual filled Gospel that Jesus, a Jew was journeying from Judea to Galilee and had to pass through Samaria.  He met a woman from that town who was coming to draw ordinary water from the well of Jacob on this faithful afternoon. You know how it is travelling in a warm weather, especially in the desert and on foot. Everyone is thirsty. The travelling Christ was also thirsty. Shocking everybody he approached a Samaritan Woman for water. And as if that was not enough he spent some quality time patiently chatting and conversing spiritually with her. It wasn’t a monologue but a respectful dialogue.

As the conversation went on the woman realized more and more the friendliness the respect and the openness of Jesus to dialogue with other cultures and his readiness to embrace people of all walks of life irrespective of their gender, weaknesses and old status quo of division and religious hatred.

On Friday after the 9 am annunciation Mass I saw three of our respectable parishioners standing right there in the narthex. They were all ladies. One of them invited me with a very fine gesture and said- Fr. Come, Come, and come here! I respectfully went to join with them. The conversation was about Jesus. They wanted to know my own take on the Samaritan Woman, especially on the issue of the five husbands.

I told them this story overflows with a lot of rich spiritual meanings. And I thought this Samaritan woman who represent all of us, recognizes the gifts of Jesus, his divinity, his prophetic role, his saving mission, his patience in dialogue, his forgiving power, and his spiritual depth as a true source of the Living Water that cleansing our personal faults replacing our thirstiness for material things with spiritual need which strengthen us on our faith journeys.

If it were now that nations and people are talking about or threats of nuclear weapons and energy, we would have said that this woman found in Jesus a true “Spiritual Nuclear Energy.” A nuclear of love, a nuclear of respect, a nuclear of forgiveness and a nuclear of dialogue. She found in Christ a nuclear capable of breaking every barrier of discrimination, religious hatred and division. She found in this symbolic Living Water, Jesus, a spiritual nuclear that would knock off diseases from our bodies and free us from the power of Satan and dominion of darkness.

As the Samaritan woman we are called to respond to Christ’s Love. She represents all us coming to faith and becoming true missionaries to our own people, family members   and others. She represents truthful response to faith. She is an ideal dialogue- partner, who brings others to Christ. She also leaves us a mandate to recognize the role of women and our roles as baptized Christian.

As we contemplate the Scripture readings of today,  may we constantly been called to reach out for our neighbors, brothers and sisters, inviting them by our words and actions to long and thirst for Christ the spiritual water that nourishes us.