March 15, 2020

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17: 3-7, Romans 5:1-2,5-8 , John 4:5-42

Some women were discussing among themselves about their future endeavours. One young woman who was yet to be married expressed what her future husband should be like. She said, “My husband should be with me always wherever I am, he should entertain me whenever I am in sorrow, should dance for me, sing for me, say jokes for me, always look bright and cheerful.”  Then the married woman replied, “If you want to have all that, you better look for a TV!”

All of us want something  in our life, something we need, something we desire. Perhaps we want someone to love, someone with whom we can share our life and build a family. Perhaps we want to play for the NBA. Maybe we want to be a doctor, a physician, musician or an entrepreneur within our own community. Perhaps we want to be respected in the eyes of others and well-liked in the eyes of our peers. Each one of us longs for something: that our spouse would love us differently, that our friends would treat us with more mutuality and respect, that we could make a lot of money and become a millionaire. Our hearts are hungry and thirsty. How can we quench this thirst or who can quench this thirst.

Today is the third Sunday of Lent, and the readings show us some thirsty people, how did they quench their thirst? And who quenched their thirst? In the first reading we see the people of Israel were on their journey in the wilderness towards the promised land and they got thirsty. They approached Moses grumbling and murmuring.  When Moses voiced their thirst to God, the Lord gave them life-giving water from what was a lifeless rock.

In today’s Gospel reading we see another thirsty soul. We know that she is a Samaritan. Some things to consider; this woman was alone. Women never went to the well alone. They went in groups in the morning or evening because going to the well was a social time and it will be cool around that time. The Gospel says the woman was at the well at noon time, the hottest time during the day in Samaria. The woman was at the well alone at the worst time of the day, why?

From the Gospel it looks like this woman was suffering from the effects of her own sinfulness and the violence of other people’s sinful behaviour towards her. She was a victim of the violence of sin. It appears like her personal life, family life and life in the society was in crisis, it was not satisfying and comfortable.  This may be the reason she chose to come at a lonely time.  Who else could be the good image of a thirsty soul?

But when she came to the well for that water, she met Jesus. Jesus started a conversation for which she was open. Their conversation starts with simple things of life and ends up in spiritual things of eternal life. There she listens to him as He talks about a living water that will lead to salvation. The woman does not come to the well to find Christ’s water, she comes to find the water that is in the well. But her thirst for that water leads her to consider and ultimately to accept the water that Jesus offers. A natural water leads her to an eternal water. A physical thirst leads her to a drink beyond her imagining. When the woman mentioned about the coming Messiah, Jesus  says to her that He is the Messiah. Thus Jesus clarifies the common doubt which many people have:  Which is the right path in the life?  Is Jesus  really  God?

Jesus is the true God who can quench our thirst. And It is clear from the action of the woman; she came for the water. But at the end of the story, notice how the woman leaves her water jar behind at the well. Why? Because in the desert of her life, she found life giving water! Jesus. A hungry soul was fed. A soul’s thirst was quenched. After meeting with Jesus she left her jar and went with the experience of Jesus.  As a result, the once alienated and scared woman becomes an evangelist at the heart of a believing community, leading people to Christ. Once she was afraid to be with people and now she is going to the crowds.

We are all called to drink from that fountain that bubbles with life. In and through every sacrament Jesus gives that living water. In times of widespread religious scepticism, the hope of heaven as eternal life after death is often rejected as wishful thinking. In the second reading St. Paul says, “We cling to this hope which does not disappoint us, relying on the word of Jesus.” The early Christians drew hope and joy from this prospect of eternal life. They persevered until death for the sake of “the glory that will be revealed in us.” We too are asked to live the values of the Gospel, in hope of finally taking our place at the fountain of life.

We can identify ourselves with these thirsty souls. We suffer from thirst; we grow weary in confronting problems and temptations. Especially, In these times of great thirst caused by doubts, discouragements and fear, let us go to this living fountain for care, cure and confidence. Let us spend more time praying for all the people, infected and affected. Jesus guarantees the “living water” we need. After contact with this Living Fountain, the discouraged woman became a disciple of Jesus, filled with hope and joy. His own Spirit is always at hand to give us courage and confidence.

Finally, I conclude with the following poetry. It was written anonymously:

My brothers and sisters,
There is a thirst in every human heart.
Each of us is like that lonely Samaritan woman.
We are thirsting for something,
something that will satisfy all our longings.
But often we search in the wrong places.
We draw the water from many wells:
the water of praise to quench our thirst for self-esteem;
the water of success to quench our thirst for importance;
the water of pleasure to quench our thirst for joy.
And, yet, we still remain thirsty.
For only God can give us what we are looking for.
God alone can cause a spring to well up inside us
and the water from this spring will sustain us in our journey
to the Promised Land of everlasting life.”

May God bless us !

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