Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily


Gospel                John 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.”



This morning you and I are the Samaritan woman.  This building just happens to be Jacob’s well.  We all come here because we have one thing in common and that is: We are all sinners.  And we all came here with our bucket. 


What we don’t know, while we are here, is what Jesus is going to ask us.  But the one thing he will ask, that we will all have to be responsible for, is: “What do you want in that bucket?”


Some of us might say,  “I’d like a bucket of happiness.”  Or, “God, if you’d pay off my bills.”  Or,  “God, if you could help my family that is going through a difficult time.”


Jesus would answer,  “Those are good things.  But I am going to put something in your bucket that is going to allow you to do whatever is necessary for the common good.” 


And that is going to make us all stop and think.


There are some people who are young and healthy and they have their whole life ahead of them, but they are going to weaken their entire body through drugs or alcohol.  We have some people who have more money than they will ever need, but putting more money in the bucket is not going to help.  We have some people who are despondent and going through a rough time.  Jesus says,  “If I took that all away from you, there would be another rough time.  I want to know what you really need.  Are you spending any time in prayer?”


And so to fill the buckets is an act of faith and that is what the Samaritan woman did.  She came to the well at the wrong time thinking no one would be there.  Sometimes you and I think that God is not interested in us.  But if we come to him at the wrong time, he is always sitting at the well. 


So that well is the spring of living water. When we are baptized God says to us,  “You’ve got everything.  The bucket will always be full.  As soon as you give part of that bucket to someone else — it is going to fill right to the brim.  But you have to be connected with me.  You have to know how much I love you.  I don’t hold anything against you.  I created you so that you would have to struggle to come close to me.  I gave you a free will and that’s why everything else in life looks great and easy.  But the real secret is, it’s that bucket.  Just always think of that bucket.”


I remember when I was a teen-ager and I was working in a grocery and liquor store combined, and I remember the owner every year would have to get his liquor license renewed.  At that time, as it has been for a hundred years, there were around 40,000 people living in Quincy.  At that time they issued 400 liquor licenses per year.  That is one for every 100 people.  And if you are old enough, you can remember how you could walk the streets in the evenings, or the afternoons, and you would see people carrying a jug.  And everybody knew exactly where they were going. 


Sometimes parents would say, “Take the jug up to Steinbreckers.  They’ll fill it, then bring it back home.”


Nobody said anything.  The kids went right into the tavern and said, “Fill the bucket, my Dad needs a beer.”


“All right.  There.  Take it home.”


Well, you know, that jug always got emptied.  I still have a jug under my kitchen sink as a remembrance of those days.  Jesus says, “That’s what I’m trying to get across to you.  The things in your life that you think are so important — you use them up and they’re empty again.  You use them up and they’re empty again.”


And Jesus says, “But what I give you, it doesn’t work that way.  I have this spring of life that is so powerful that it overcomes everything.” 


He says to us,  “I know you each by name.  I know everything about you.”  Just like he said to the woman,  “Go get your husband.”  So he can say to us, “Don’t hide under the pews.  I know it all.  And I want you to know that you came here to receive something, and that something is the greatest gift there is.”


So may you and I hold on to our faith. 


We are going to share the first scrutiny with those who are coming into the church at Easter.  This is being done in churches all over the world in all languages.  It is not being done out in the back shed.  It is taking place in a community of believers.  We all are going to be seeking once again.  We are going to ask the people coming into the church, “You’ve got your bucket, too.  Would you like it filled with the living water?”


They are going to look at us and ask,  “Is your bucket filled with the living water?  I don’t want to be part of community that does not understand what this well is all about.”


Jesus says,  “You know, when you finally have that living water, everything in your life changes.”


We are going to have three scrutinies.  We are also going to present the elect and the candidates with the prayer.  We are also going to present them with the creed.  Hopefully, you and I know how to pray, and we know what the creed is.


So when they finally come at the Easter Vigil and are baptized and they have full profession with us, it is not just with us — it is with the entire world, with people of all languages, and all rituals, and all customs.  That is how powerful the living water is. 


So Jesus says when we are baptized,  “Even though I have given you the living water, there will be times when you do need your bucket filled. And I will always fill it.”


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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.

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