Homily Third Sunday of Lent Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
· Exod 17:3-7;
· Ps 95:1-2.6-9;
· Rom 5:1-2, 5-8
· John 4:5-42
Christ Refreshes Us with his Gift of Love
Many of us are familiar with today’s delightful Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4. It is a story of God’s incarnate, Christ, who consistently refreshes and lavishes each of us with his gifts, with the “water” we need, especially the “water “of his love and mercy, his journeying with us, his rapport and his dialogue with us and our families and friends!
This loving rapport and refreshment in the gospel goes back not only to the time of creation but its also evidence in the first reading, about the first Exodus, during the time of the dryness of the Israelite in the Wilderness (Exod 17:3-7). As they journeyed through the wilderness, in their needs God not only fights for them, hardens Pharaoh’s heart, but he provides the leadership of Moses, love, food, manna, and drinking water for his chosen people, in spite of them: a community who complains; who acts out Massah, who repeats the story of Merribah, and are often distracted from acknowledging the everlasting love of God. His gifts of mercy and guidance on our journeys. God is the Rock and the Love of our lives!
Paul, as well, speaks of this ever consistent, universal and refreshing love of God in the second reading (Rom 5:1-2, 5-8). He says, “Brothers and sisters, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith,” hope and love. Ultimately, Jesus proves his love for us in that while were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
How often do we not complain like the Israelites in the wilderness, at Massah and Merribah? What prevents us from returning to God in our desert experiences? How easy is it for us to fail to recognize the love of God in our lives, his blessings, or forget the history of our RCIA, the history of our Christian faith, those promises we made during our initiation into Christian faith; the history of God’s love for us in our thirstiness, in our hunger; in our deserts? In our frustrations! Remember, no matter our drynesses God is there to refresh us!
The activities of this refreshing love of God is heighten in today's Gospel passage, when Jesus encounters, dialogues, listens, and shares a cup cold water with the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 (John 4:5-42). It is a faithful afternoon, in John 4. Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi is travels in company of his disciples from Judea to Galilee. He passes through Samaria. Here he meets this Samaritan woman who comes to draw a fresh water from the well of Jacob. Everyone must have been thirsty to a different degree: the woman, Christ and his disciples, since it was in the middle of the summer heat. To the shock of everyone Jesus, a Jewish rabbi breaks protocols and dismantles the unnecessary status quo. He approaches, this symbolic, individual, a woman for a cup drinking water. He also spends sometime chatting with her, respectfully, to the tacit disapproval of his disciples!
This conversation and exchange are much more than the search and thirstiness for ordinary water. Jesus is friendly, respectful to women and people of all cultures. It is not long the Samaritan woman recognizes this. She recognizes the gifts and the compassion of Jesus. She recognizes his divinity, his love, 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. She invites the rest of the Samaritan town to trust and visit with Jesus, the source of life, and the Savior of the World (John 4:42).
During Lent we find ourselves not only in the Samaritan woman, but in the Samaritan town. From this town, from our respective locations, Jesus invites us to listen to him. He comes to us. He talks to us. He dialogues with us. He loves us. He provides us drinking water.
This water cleanses our personal faults and assures our uncertainties. It refreshes and replaces our thirstiness for material things with spiritual need. It replaces our hunger for war with peace. It replaces our desire for revenge with a thirst for reconciliation. It refreshes our stinginess with generosity, our selfishness with charity, our despair with hope; our jealousy with contentment. This Living Water of Christ refreshes our divisiveness with unity; our exclusivism with inclusivism and helps us reach out to others, especially the poor, the aged, the immigrants, the sick, the weak and the marginalized of our society.
As we journey through our deserts of Lent and Exodus of hope, may we strive to imitate the Samaritan woman, disposing ourselves for Christ’s healing mercy. As recipients of God’s mercy and his refreshing love may we in turn reach out to others, inviting them to partake in this bountiful love of Christ, and share in his spiritual drink of faith like the Samaritan woman, like the Israelites in wilderness.
1. How often do we not complain like the Israelites in the wilderness, at Massah and Merribah (Exodus 17)?
2. What prevents us from returning to God in our desert experiences? Or encourage other members of our faith communities to do so?
3. How often do we not fail to recognize the love of God in our lives, or forget the history of our RCIA, the history of our Christian faith, those promises we made during our initiation into Christian faith?
4. As believers, leaders, preachers and modern prophets do we see ourselves in Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4)?