March 19, 2017
3rd Sun of Lent
Sun 8 & 10 am
Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42
On this 3rd Sunday of Lent the RCIA Elect (adults & young people over the age of 7 preparing for: Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist) and the Candidates (adults preparing for Confirmation and Eucharist) will be experiencing the 1st of 3 Scrutinies. Sounds painful (knees)! Scrutiny, is from the word “to scrutinize” or look very closely at. The Elect and Candidates are called to look deep inside as they prepare for the Easter sacraments to fully realize where they have fallen short and that they truly need God’s saving grace. But during Lent we are all called to do the same are we not?
And so the readings on this 3rd Sunday of Lent help us to be open to God’s love and mercy. The theme of the readings are clearly about water (referring to Baptism), but more specifically “living water.” Living water where we find God’s saving grace.
The first reading is from the Book of Exodus after God had set His people free from slavery in Egypt and after Moses had parted the Red Sea with his staff. Yet after all they had witnessed the people were complaining because they were thirsty. They said, “Why did you make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst?” (We never complain when things don’t go our way do we?!!) The Lord told Moses to strike the rock with his staff and water would flow for the people to drink. And it did! God provided for His people. This was a foreshadow of the Cross of Christ (the Rock of our salvation) when the soldier struck the side of Jesus and water flowed. God provided for His people once again, but this time it was “living water”, water that gives eternal life.
The theme of water continues in the Gospel when the Samaritan woman encounters the source of living water in Jesus at the well. The woman came to the well at high noon, the hottest part of the day, most likely to avoid the other women because of her reputation. It was unheard of for a Jewish man to speak to an unfamiliar woman and especially to a Samaritan. Yet Jesus has an encounter with her by asking her for a drink. This is also unheard of because by touching what she touched would make Him unclean according to the Law. But Jesus ignores all that and meets her where she is, knowing full well about her past and her present. This Samaritan woman tried to satisfy her thirst by quenching it with other things and other ways. But now through this encounter with Christ she has found the one and only thing that can truly satisfy – which is Jesus…The Samaritan woman is an image of us all. We have a thirst that God Himself has placed inside of us. We try to satisfy this thirst with things that cannot quench it: with material things, with power, with wealth, with momentary pleasures through our senses. But we will never be completely satisfied, we will never find true joy until we drink of the living waters that only Christ can provide. To satisfy this thirst inside of us we must encounter Christ. Jesus knew all about the Samaritan woman’s past yet He met her where she was in the midst of all that mess and He satisfied her thirst. The same is with us. Jesus knows all about our messes, he knows all about our past and our present. He is more concerned about our future. He wants to meet us where we are and satisfy us only like He can so we can have a better future according to His will for our lives.
So the question is, have you encountered Christ? There is a huge difference between knowing about Him and knowing Him (head to heart). Think back over your life…Have you ever encountered Jesus in a real way? It may have been in subtle ways or it may have been in a profound way. The way you know if you have encountered Christ is that it changes you. Everything is different, you see things different, you act different, you live different, and you will thirst for Christ even more. St. Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians when he had an encounter with Christ. After that everything changed for him. The same will be true for us. When we have truly met Jesus we will be changed, we will be different than we were before. This encounter is not just one time but must happen over and over again… My wife and I grew up in Catholic families, we were married at a young age and we went to mass off and on. But we did not know Jesus until we started to attend a Catholic bible study when everything changed for us: our marriage, our focus, our priorities, our work, our relax time, the way we seen things and people and so on. Like St. Paul says in the second reading, we were filled with faith, with hope and with love. We were like St. Paul whose scales had come off of his eyes and he seen everything in a new light…The ways to meet Christ are unlimited: in the sacraments (Reconciliation & Eucharist), in His Word, prayer & contemplation, in events of our lives and through other people to name a few.
And like St. Paul and like the Samaritan woman after we have had an encounter with Christ we want to share it with others so they will come to know this Jesus and so that they will be satisfied also. This is called “Evangelization” the spreading of the Good News that you have experienced…The scripture said the Samaritan 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.” She encountered Christ and shared it with others. She could not hold it in. The same will be true for us. If and when we have encountered Christ we will not be able to hold it in either. It will come out in our daily lives according to the gifts and graces we have been given. It will come out by the sharing of our stories, and the sharing of our time, talents and treasure…And when we share the Good News of meeting Jesus it will be up to the other to receive it or reject it. It will be up to them if they allow an encounter with Christ. We just need to meet them where they are, not judging or condemning them. But just sharing with them right there in their mess like Jesus encountered us in our mess.
In closing, all living creatures cannot survive without water. The same is true for us Christians, we cannot survive spiritually without the “living waters” from the source who is Jesus. During Lent we are all asked to look deep inside and to realize that we need the saving grace that the living waters of Jesus provides because without Him we will be lost…The “living water” is available for us, which is the cure and the antidote for eternal death. We just need to stop and drink of it. Nothing on this earth will satisfy us, nothing will quench our thirst until we find the source of living water…Jesus the Christ through the Holy Spirit. He is waiting for an encounter with us. He is waiting for us at the well of eternal life.
Take a drink and keep drinking of the “living water.”