March 8, 2015 3rd Sunday in Lent
Reading I Exodus 17:3-7
Reading II Romans 5:1-8
Gospel John 4:5-42
Our readings this morning talk to us about faith and the importance of faith. In the first reading from the Book of Exodus, we see the Israelites unhappy. Moses has taken them from Egypt and is leading them into the Promised Land. But as they move on they are running out of food and they are running out of water — and they are running out of faith. So Moses goes to God and says, “We have a problem. The Israelites are ready to stone me because they think they are going to die, and because they have lost faith and trust in you.”
So God says, “Go to the rock at Horeb. Hit the stone with your staff and water will flow forth from it.” And he did, and the water flowed, and they were fine. And again their trust in God was reaffirmed.
In our Gospel reading today we have an interesting story from the Gospel of John about Jesus, who was a Jew, and a woman, who was a Samaritan. A Samaritan was a person who was originally Jewish. However, during the Babylonian captivity the Jews were taken away to Babylon and during those years they intermarried with people other than Jews. Therefore, according to the Jewish people, they were unclean, they were unworthy, and they weren’t good enough.
So at the time of Christ we have Jesus taking a shortcut through Samaria, he stops at the well, and here comes the Samaritan woman. Now, did Jesus always obey the rules? No. He obeyed most of the rules. But if the rules ever interfered with a relationship between people, he didn’t follow them. If someone needed healing on the Sabbath, it didn’t make any difference to Jesus. If someone needed healing, he healed that person.
Here is a Samaritan woman whom Jesus should not be talking to because: Number One, she is a woman and they are in a public place. Number Two: She shouldn’t be talking to Jesus because she is a Samaritan woman and he is a Jew. More than that, Jesus says, “I want a drink of water.” Which means they would be drinking from the same cup and that would make Jesus unclean.
But did that make any difference to Jesus? No. What Jesus is always about is healing. He’s always about healing others. He came to die for us but he also came to show us how to live.
So here he is at the well, the Samaritan woman comes up and he asks her, “Would you give me a drink?” She is taken aback for many reasons. For one thing: He shouldn’t be talking to her. And number two: She is not a happy camper. Her life is not a very good life.
Most people came to the well in the morning and the evening when it was nice and cool. They didn’t come at twelve noon during the hottest part of the day. So why did the Samaritan woman come at noon? Because she didn’t fit in and she knew no one else would be there at that time. She was not liked by the people in the town. They gave her a hard time so she came at noon hoping not to see anyone.
But does Jesus have a plan? Absolutely. His plan was to help this woman to gain faith, to see who Jesus was, and to find out who she was.
Jesus says, “Give me a drink.”
She answers, “I shouldn’t even be talking to you.”
Jesus says, “If you knew who I was, I would give you living water — water that would last forever and would last for eternal life.”
“You’re going to give me living water and you don’t even have a bucket? How are you going to get the water out of the well?” Of course she thought Jesus was talking about drinking water, but he was talking about faith. He was talking about the living waters of baptism; he was talking about him giving her everything that she needs for this life — and eternal life.
As we continue to go through the story we can see how her faith changes. She first calls him, “Sir.” But when he tells her she has had five husbands she says, “You must be a prophet.”
Finally, when he says, “I am the Messiah.” She accepts this as true and runs to town to tell those same people who don’t even like her — and says, “Come see the Messiah.”
In our readings we are really in Cycle B, but for this week and the next two weeks we are in the Cycle A readings. We are there because of the Catechumens who will be coming at Eastertime to receive the Easter sacraments.
We listen to these readings for the Catechumens, but also for us. Because Lent is a good time to look at ourselves and ask: What is our relationship with God? What is our relationship with each other? What do we need to do to make our relationships better? For the Catechumens as they move closer and closer to God, we want to give them the strength and help that they need to believe more strongly — so when they receive that living water of baptism — they will have the relationship they need.
This weekend we have the Pre-Cana couples here. Four couples are here and we have talked about many different things. One thing we have discussed is the importance of God in their lives. A second is the importance of God in their marriage. We also talked about how important it is for them to come to Mass so they can continue to believe and strengthen their faith together.
Last night Father Mike had a reconciliation service for our engaged couples. Each couple came forward and was to say to each other “How they have failed in loving the other? Can you forgive me, can I forgive you?” Our Gospel shows us by example that we truly need to love one another. We truly need to reach out to each other, as Jesus did to the Samaritan woman at the well. We need to remember that all of us have been that woman at one time or another. We need to reach out to one another and to help each other strengthen our faith.
So this week, let us pray for our Catechumens. Let us pray for our engaged couples as they approach their wedding day. Let us pray for each other so that this Lent is truly a time for us to look at ourselves and ask:
How can we do better in our relationship with God?
And can we do better in our relationship with one another so that truly our faith increases?
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.