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Third Sunday of Lent Reflection

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Today’s reading for the Third Sunday of Lent have one main thing in common: Water.

The first reading comes from Exodus. In it, we read about Moses’ struggle with the stubborn Hebrews who whined about being taken out of captivity. Go figure right?  They complain to Moses about being brought out into the desert to die of thirst.

The Hebrews actually preferred being in Egypt as slaves than in the desert.  Here we see a lack of faith. Despite all the wonders God performed, they still doubted and whined. Think about this for a minute.  They saw God send down plagues upon Egypt, one of them which transformed the waters to blood (Exodus 7:14-10:29). However, they still believe that they were taken to the desert to die of thirst.  How can they even think this after seeing how God had complete control over the molecules and atoms that make up water?

 

Again, the issue here is lack of faith. Humanity has not changed much since this time.  We still

whine and complain. When God doesn’t answer our prayers or answers them differently, we get upset. Some of us even lose faith altogether despite witnessing God work in our lives in the past.

 

Moses himself becomes a bit stressed out and asks God for help fearing that the people will stone him.

God calmly tells him to go with his staff and strike a rock and water will flow from it. Gods asks Moses to do this to show that He can do anything. Usually water comes from rain, but God wanted Moses to tap on a rock for it. I see this as an innuendo of sorts. The Hebrews then and us today are “hard-headed.” God must sometimes tap on our rocky heads to get water to flow, so to speak.

 

This first reading should remind us of faith and how delicate it is. We can be the most zealous Christians on Earth jumping around shouting alleluia like the charismatics, but it takes just one disappointment in life to bring all that down. In an instant we can lose faith in God. This is dangerous. Moreover, the first reading can be connected to our own spiritual journey during Lent and the rest of the year. We are “in the desert” trusting God. The desert is not a comfortable place.  In fact, it is so uncomfortable that even being a slave in Egypt sounds better.The desert is a common theme in the Sacred Scriptures.  It is not only a real place on Earth, but a symbol of hardship and loneliness.

 

The Psalm response is linked to the first reading. It comes from Psalm 95 and mentions the incident of the lack of trust the Hebrews had at Meribah and Massah. The psalm calls God the “rock of our salvation.”  This is a connection to the rock Moses tapped for water. Water is the “salvation” of a thirty individual.

 

It is no surprise that to each refrain we respond, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” This “hardening” is another connection to the rock in the desert and why I wrote a few paragraphs above that it is an innuendo. We often become “hard-headed” and harden our hearts as well.  The psalm reminds us that God is the one who made us and we should trust in Him. We must not repeat what our ancestors did where they did not trust Him and tested Him. The psalm ends in this manner.

 

The second reading speaks to us about faith. Again, it is all connected with the previous readings.  St. Paul reminds us that faith is what connects us with God. God gives grace to all freely, but we must respond with faith to it otherwise we will miss the grace.

 

This faith must then be put into practice for it to be truly valid because we must love God and have faith in Him not just because of commands, but because we choose it (James 2:14-26).  When we freely choose something instead of being forced to do something, it becomes more valuable and authentic. The reading continues speaking about hope that doesn’t disappoint. No matter what hardships we face, God is still there.  Again, we must not repeat the mistakes of our ancestors in the desert who knew God was there but still doubted.

 

Lastly, the Gospel tells us about the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus. The Samaritans are a group of people who the Jews did not like. In about 700 BC, the Assyrians came to Israel and took over the north. They brought strangers to that area who would be called “Samaritans” later on. These people were Pagans but as they lived among the Jews in the land, they adopted some of their ideas and incorporated them into their own religion. Nevertheless, the Jews saw them as a pariah.

 

Jesus comes to a town called “Sychar.” He is tired and sits down. Imagine that?  God is tired. This shows the humanity of Christ.

 

I digress..

 

As Jesus rests, a woman comes by and He asks her for a drink.  The woman is shocked because He asks her for a drink.  She does this because of the tension between the Jews and her people. Moreover, women at the time were not seen as full persons in those times due to culture. Jesus is showing He is a “feminist” per se. Moreover, Jesus then responds to her that if she knew who was asking her for water she would have been given the “living water” which is God’s grace that comes from the Holy Spirit.

 

He continues telling her that the water He asks of her does not quench thirst but that the water He

gives will. Here He is saying that only God can satisfy us fully. Things of this world, including water, satiate. They do not satisfy us forever. The woman becomes interested and asks Jesus for this water.  Jesus then shows her that He knows her life by revealing that she had five husbands. The rest of the Gospel (if the longer version is read) continues with Jesus speaking about true religion in spirit and truth that comes from what He gives. The disciples also make an appearance and show their disapproval of the woman and Jesus communicating.

 

The Gospel is very long, but has deep and simple themes to reflect on.  First let us focus on faith. Here we see that it is God who comes to us, not the other way around. Jesus comes to the woman and asks for water. This is His way of saying that we have to respond back to God’s grace with our faith and why He says, “I thirst” on the cross (John 19:28). He approaches us and asks for us to give Him water (our faith response).

 

Second, the woman belonged to a group of people that the Jews did not like.  Christ shows us that we must go to everyone with the Good News, not only our own. We must not be greedy and keep the truth for ourselves, but must share it with the “Samaritans” of the world today: non-believers, lukewarm believers, those who believe in other faith traditions, etc. We must not judge those who are not in our Catholic Church – the Mystical Body of Christ. Instead, we must approach them, be friends with them and reach out to them. We must also listen to them and learn from them just like Jesus listened to the woman.

 

The Gospel reminds us of “water.” Water is the ultimate source of physical life.  Without water, there would be no life on this planet. Water is the engine of life. Jesus reminds us that He has the living water that gives us meaning and true life unlike the common H2o on Earth that we need to live on, physically speaking.

 

Ironically, in a desert that thing that is lacking the most and is the most desirable is water. When our

lives become dry, painful under the heat; the discomforts of the desert of life hit us hard, it is Christ who gives us the living water who keeps us going. In this time of Lent, we are walking in the desert with Christ. We are tempted to break our fast just like Jesus was tempted by Satan.

 

We naturally suffer spiritual dryness when we feel God is not there like the Hebrews who felt they were tricked into going to the desert to die. Our response is to trust in God even in bad times. We must not become hard headed and doubt God like those in Meribah and Massah. We know God is there. We have encountered Him in our lives. Our daily struggles should not push us to think God is not there in our lives. Faith is key. We must ask ourselves during Lent as we walk in the deserts of life: “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

 

The answer is YES!  He is there with a nice clean cup of fresh living water to quench our thirst.

 

 

 

 

 

READINGS:

 

Third Sunday of Lent

Lectionary: 28

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032314.cfm

 

Reading 1EX 17:3-7

In those days, in their thirst for water,

the people grumbled against Moses,

saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?

Was it just to have us die here of thirst

with our children and our livestock?”

So Moses cried out to the LORD,

“What shall I do with this people?

a little more and they will stone me!”

The LORD answered Moses,

“Go over there in front of the people,

along with some of the elders of Israel,

holding in your hand, as you go,

the staff with which you struck the river.

I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.

Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it

for the people to drink.”

This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.

The place was called Massah and Meribah,

because the Israelites quarreled there

and tested the LORD, saying,

“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

 

 

Responsorial Psalm PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

 

R/ (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;

let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;

let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For he is our God,

and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the desert,

Where your fathers tempted me;

they tested me though they had seen my works.”

R/ If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

 

 

Reading 2 ROM 5:1-2, 5-8

 

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

to this grace in which we stand,

and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

 

And hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For Christ, while we were still helpless,

died at the appointed time for the ungodly.

Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,

though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.

But God proves his love for us

in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

 

Gospel JN 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.”

 

Or JN 4:5-15, 19B-26, 39A, 40-42

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.

 

“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 who is speaking with you.”

 

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

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