March 19, 2017
The Third Sunday of Lent
Verse Before the Gospel
Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world;
Give me living water that I may never thirst again.
A Reading From the Holy Gospel
ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN 4: 5-42
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.
The Gospel of the Lord
For parishes that are preparing catechumens for the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Holy Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil, this Sunday provides the First Scrutiny with this Gospel according to Saint John. In addition, this Gospel is always used in the “A” cycle of readings (which is this year).
Today’s Gospel is extremely powerful from a number of perspectives, and no one reflection could capture all of its faith-filled dimensions. Allow me first to draw attention to the time of day that this encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman took place; It was about noon. It would be easy to ignore what appears to be a small detail except for the fact it was about noon when Jesus hanging on the cross said that he was thirsty! So a thirsty woman comes to a natural-well seeking water, and the source of supernatural water asks the woman: Give me a drink! According to Divine plan, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate draws the woman, and indeed all humanity, to himself by humbly asking for water so that we in turn would not be afraid to ask him for life-giving water! God’s humility has no barrier if it is for our good!
The woman is a good example of all people who thirst for more than what this world can give. The woman has sought out fulfillment in relationships, indeed she married five times. She was not wrong in seeking a relationship. We were created to have a lasting a fulfilling relationship. We were created to be happy. The fundamental error in humanity is to seek complete happiness in something that cannot give us lasting fulfillment — Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. The Creator fashioned us to have a lasting and fulfilling relationship with Him alone, and in and through that relationship find happiness with each other. God is first and all other relationships and goods find their place in God.
Truly, in this Gospel the Church is proclaiming Jesus as the source of eternal happiness, ever-lasting fulfillment, and eternal life-giving water: but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
In addition, the Gospel is a powerful demonstration of a development in faith, a progression toward deeper and deeper faith. The woman first recognizes Jesus as a Jewish man, then as a prophet, and then possibly as the Messiah. The town people on hearing the woman’s story seek out Jesus for themselves. The Gospel clearly demonstrates that for most disciples there is a gradual deepening of faith over time. It took the first disciples a period of time … trained three years; they still were hesitant in completely surrendering themselves to Jesus and acclaiming him as Lord!
The woman’s testimony was essential for the people of the town to even seek out Jesus. So it is for us. People who witness to their faith are essential elements in one’s development in faith. In turn, our witness to Jesus by word and deed is essential in God’s plan to evangelize the world. However, like today’s Gospel, the story does not end with the woman’s testimony. Her confession encouraged the town people to seek out Jesus for themselves. No matter how trustworthy a clergy member or lay person is, each of us must encounter Jesus Christ for ourselves! We all must come to a realization that all the goods of this world will never satisfy us completely. In light of the story, no matter how many times we go to an earthly-well, we will still thirst for more. Only Jesus Christ is the Life-Giving Water that can satisfy every thirst eternally!!! Each of us individually must proclaim: We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the World!
During this Lent get in touch with your deepest thirst, what you truly desire above all things? Use Lent to personally encounter Jesus so that you may develop in faith, so that you too might proclaim Jesus as Savior of the World!
Remember man, you are dust, and to dust you will return!
Have a grace filled Lent!
ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST
Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat. See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com