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
Scrutiny 1 at 12 noon Mass
Sharing in the Life of Christ, the Living Water (u[dwr zw/n))
Dear friends in Christ,
Today is another special day of joy in our Parish Community. We are happily gathered to celebrate the Word of God and gifts of Christ the Living Water, who satisfies our thirst as we journey through Lent. Within this liturgy 12 of our brothers and sisters called the Elects and Candidates, who have been preparing to become full members of the Church the Body of Christ at Easter, through the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults will be invited up here for scrutiny. I am confident that they are surrounded by their director, the sponsors, teachers, friends and godparents. We welcome you in the name Christ!
As we share the Word of God today, I also want to reassure you of the love this Parish Assembly has for you. As you search for Christ today in your spiritual journeys, remember that Christ the Living Water is also constantly searching for you through the prayers and the rituals of the universal Church.
This is also true from the readings chosen today from the Book of Exodus and particularly the Johnnine narrative of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman. These readings are not read by accident. They are thoughtfully selected. Feel free to prayerfully reread them again at your private time. The Church is thinking and praying for you. From Exodus to John- it shows who God is and demonstrates God's gifts of life and protection for us, in our going and coming. It fit perfectly into our Lenten spirit of penance, renewal and purification. It also fits into the particular spiritual journeys of our brothers and sisters looking forward to be initiated into the Christian family on Easter Saturday.
We are told in that symbolic and spiritual filled John’s narrative 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. The travelling Christ was also thirsty. It was shocking to everybody including the woman and the disciples to see Christ, a Jew approaching a Samaritan for water. And as if that was not enough spending additional time chatting and conversing spiritually with her. It was not a monologue but a respectful dialogue. But an usual episode for Jews and the Samaritan who would not associate with each other.
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 to embrace people of all walks of life, irrespective of their gender and weaknesses.
This reminds me what happened here on Friday after the Mass of Annunciation. I saw three of our good parishioners standing in the narthex, they were all ladies. I presumed they were chatting about Jesus. One of them gestured and said to me come…come.. Come Fr. I went respectfully to them. They wanted to know my take on the Samaritan Woman. Well, I told them this story overflows with a lot of rich spiritual meanings. And I thought this woman who represent all of us, recognizes the gifts of Jesus, his divinity, his prophetic role, his saving mission, the spiritual depth of Christ as a true source of the Living Water.
If it were now that nations and people are talking about threats of nuclear weapons and energy, we would have said that this woman found in Jesus a true “Spiritual Nuclear.” A nuclear of love and respect for women; a nuclear of forgiveness and dialogue. She found in Christ a nuclear capable of penetrating barriers of discrimination, cast-systems, religious hatred and division. She found in 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 all 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.
This story is also true for our brothers and sisters (Elects and Candidates) journeying to be initiated into the Catholic Family at Easter. We know you have indeed travelled a long but enriching spiritual process and periods of Evangelization/Precatechumenate, Catechumenate and their accompanying rites. You have walked through several steps to arrive at this Third Period of Purification and Enlightenment. You have been catechized, instructed and molded in the faith. You have also had the opportunities to share your stories and ask you questions. Recently you were elected and recognized by our Bishop. Today begins your first scrutiny and ceremonial search for Christ who is also delightfully searching for you.
These Scrutinies are good for you and for all of us. They are meant to inspire in you that desire for purification and redemption by Christ. It will uncover and heal in you all that are weak, defective or sinful in your hearts. It will also strengthen all that is upright, strong and good in you. It reminds us that Jesus is our healer. He searches for us. These rites will protect you and exorcised you from the power of Satan and all kinds of temptations. With it you will be given the strength in Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Living Water; that same Spiritual Water, that spiritual nuclear energy, given to the Samaritan woman, and you will never be thirsty again.
As we pray for ourselves, let us continue to pray for them at this Mass that together we may always act like the Samaritan woman, recognizing the gifts of life in Jesus by inviting others through our words and actions to participate in the life of Christ our Savior, the Living Water (John 4: 14,42).