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The Third Sunday of Lent

March 23, 2019

Verse before the Gospel

Lord you are truly the Savior of the world;
  Give me the living water that I may never thirst again.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 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 waterJesus 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.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION by Monsignor Joseph T. Marino

Our parish is preparing three catechumens for the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Holy Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil, and therefore, on this Sunday the First Scrutiny (Rite of Prayer and Exorcism for those to be Baptized, the Elect) is performed.  It is then most proper to us the Gospel according to Saint John.

This Gospel is extremely powerful from a number of perspectives, and no one reflection could capture all of its faith-filled dimensions.  However, certain details are well worth identifying.  The first of which is the time of day.  The Gospel says that the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman took place about noon.  It is easy to ignore this rather small detail except for the fact it was about noon while hanging on the cross that Jesus said: I thirst.

The thirsty woman approached a natural-well seeking water, and the supernatural well of water asks: Give me a drink!   As she tries to draw water from the well, Jesus  draws her and us to himself by humbly asking for water.  He does this first to teach us that we should not be afraid to ask him for life-giving water!  Jesus goes to all extremes to satisfy our thirst. Truly, this Gospel proclaims Jesus Christ as the source of eternal happiness, ever-lasting fulfillment, and eternal life-giving water: the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The woman exemplifies all humanity who thirst for what this world cannot give.  She has looked in all the wrong places.  She chased after fulfillment with five husbands; yet, she was not wrong in seeking intimacy.  God created us to have a fulfilling relationship, and to be happy.  Our fundamental error is seeking perfect happiness in something that cannot satisfy us — Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.  The Creator fashioned us to have an eternal relationship with him, and only in this way can we find happiness with others.  God first, and all other relationships in God. 

In addition, the Gospel demonstrates the development of faith.  The woman progresses from first recognizing Jesus as a Jewish man, to acknowledging him as a prophet, and then as the Messiah.  And, on hearing the woman’s testimony even the town’s people seek out Jesus for themselves.  All disciples deepen their faith a little at a time. Even though the first disciples spent three years with Jesus, it still took time for them to trust him and surrender themselves to him.  It was true for them, and it is true for us. 

The story does not end with the woman.  Her confession of faith encouraged the town’s people to engage Jesus for themselves. Her testimony was essential for them to look for Jesus.  By witnessing our faith, we encourage others to grow in their faith.  Our witness to Jesus by word and deed complements God’s plan to evangelize the world. Yet, each person must personally encounter Christ and proclaim him alone as Lord!  No matter how many times we go to an earthly-well we will still thirst for more.  Only Jesus Christ is the Life-Giving Water that can satisfy every thirst eternally!!!  Individually, we must proclaim: 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!

During this Lent get in touch with your deepest thirst — what you truly desire above all things?  Use Lent to personally encounter Jesus so that you too might proclaim Jesus as Savior of the World!

Prosit!

Monsignor Joseph Marino

 

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