3rd Sunday of Lent
Reading I Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Reading II Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Gospel John 4:5-42
This morning we are going to celebrate the first scrutiny with the candidates and the select of our RCIA. We are also going to present them with the Creed. We go through this ritual, and we will again next Sunday and the following Sunday, to make all of us aware that coming to the well and meeting Jesus is not just a thirty-second commercial — it is a way of life.
Just think for a moment. Pick out a well experience in your life since last Sunday. Did you go to a restaurant and maybe the server went out of his way — you had some children with you and they spilled something on the floor, and the server cleaned everything up and you enjoyed the rest of your meal. Would you remember that act of kindness?
If you were a plumber or an electrician and you went to someone’s house and when you got there you found a man, or a woman, living alone. As you are trying to fix something you realize that the light in the ceiling isn’t working and you say to that person, “If you’d turn on the light it would help me to see.” The woman answers, “I’m sorry. I have a bulb but I can not climb on the ladder to put it in.” The plumber or electrician says, “Just give me the bulb. I’ll be happy to do that for you.” In two seconds he climbs up, takes the old bulb out, and puts in the new bulb. When he leaves a friend later asks, “Did the plumber or electrician come?” The man or woman answers, “He came and you know, he was the nicest person. I needed to have the bulb changed in the ceiling fixture and he changed it for me.” The plumbing or electricity problem was forgotten; what was remembered was that someone had shown an act of kindness.
So who showed you an act of kindness this week? Or to whom did you show an act of kindness this week? How did you make a difference? Where was your well experience? Because remember Jesus and the Samaritan woman had nothing in common. Normally, she would have come to the well when the sun had gone down and it was cooler to go outside and walk on the sand. But Jesus knew this was going to happen and he was sitting there at the well waiting for her, waiting to let someone know — who he really was. And we know the rest of the story. We hear it over and over again. He knew about the woman and he set her up and said, “Go get your husband.” She answered, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus said, “I know that.”
Sometimes if we have been uncharitable to someone we tell ourselves, “Oh, God is so busy with everyone else he probably didn’t even notice what I said, or what I did that was uncharitable.” God says, “I’m in your life. I know you inside and out. I don’t ever play games, I simply want you to know who I am.”
When the woman finally realized who Jesus was, and we hear this over and over and over again, she immediately went into town and told everybody, “This guy I met at the well was different from anyone I’ve ever met.”
Is the God that you and I believe in different from anyone else we have ever met? God can never second-guess us, he can never deny us, all he can do is open up and say, “I want to give you something that this well cannot give you.”
How often does God come into each of our lives? He meets us where we are. He meets us in pain or joy. Maybe something neat has happened to you and you feel that you are on top of the world and you have achieved something that no one has ever achieved. Jesus would say, “You know, you wouldn’t be there without me.” Or, the reverse can happen and you can be down and out and if five things had to go wrong they all went wrong in your life. And no one really cares. Jesus walks up and says, “I understand.”
So this morning we are being asked to think about the “well moments” in our lives and that we need to go a little bit deeper. The deeper we go we have to quit walking and then eventually we have to start swimming, and then we not only swim but we reach a new destination and when we reach that place we realize, “I have done something that I could not have done without my relationship with God.”
When we pick up a small child and hold him so he can get a drink from a drinking fountain — we put the child back down and the child just runs. But the child will remember your helping him and your act of kindness for a lifetime. He won’t remember your name, but as he gets older he is going to pick up another child and help that child have a drink of water.
It’s simple but it’s also very difficult because you and I, for the most part, are very stubborn and we are really saying, “I know there is a God. But I can handle things by myself.” God always says, “Go ahead. We’ll see how far you get. But I know one thing, when you come back — I’ll be here.”
That’s the God the elect and the candidates want to receive in a deeper level. They are all wonderful people. They know God loves them. But as they embrace the Catholic faith they are realizing that there is more to this journey —and that it is really a journey for the rest of our lives. So many things come and go. But the things that we really cling to are the things that change each of our lives.
So now I would like to invite the elect and the candidates and their Godparents and their sponsors to come forward, to stand up here and face forward as we celebrate the first scrutiny and the sharing of the Creed.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0034)