Reflection/Homily: Third (3rd) Sunday of Lent Year A (23 March 2014)
Theme: Christ is The Source of Living Water
The first reading (Exodus 17:3-7) narrates to us the story of how thirsty the Israelites were in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Despite their lack of trust in God, God intervened in their situation by asking Moses to strike the rock with his rod and out of this rock came fresh water for the Israelites to drink. Perhaps we may have experienced similar forms of divine interventions in our lives especially at our moments of despair. The reading assures us that though God may seem not to be interested in our predicaments, He is always there to rescue us and that is why we should continue to trust in Him who can never disappoint us. All we need to do is to obey His commands just as Moses did. Today, in our journey to the new Promised Land (heaven), like the Israelites, we also experience thirst in various forms. We may be thirsty of healing, salvation, employment, financial breakthrough, etc and these problems may have led us to murmur against God. In the midst of these difficulties, we can always approach Christ represented by the ministers of the Gospel who are also representatives of Moses. Through the exercise of their ministry, God comes to our aid. Christ is that rock from which the blessings of God flow like water. He is the source of the living water which quenches our spiritual and physical thirst.
Christ confirms this in the Gospel reading (John 4:5-42) when he said to the Samaritan woman: “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. The Samaritan woman had gone to Jacob’s well to draw water at an odd time when she met Jesus requesting for a drink. Because the Jews and Samaritans were not in good standing, she refused Christ a drink only to request from him, the life-giving water. The Samaritan woman represents us in our search for God. She was in search of water and the only place she could find water was in Jacob’s well, a symbol of the Church. Like the Samaritan woman, we too are in search of this life-giving water and we can find the source of this living water in the Church. In the desert of sin, all who come to the Church with the right intention drink of this living water which is the Holy Spirit. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the Church satisfies our needs and washes us clean of our sins. Like Jacob’s well where one can draw clean water when the well is calm and dirty water when the well is stirred, the Church is also a community of saints and sinners.
It is in this Church that Christ requests for our jar of dirty water that he may give us the life-giving water. We can draw an analogy between Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan woman and the sacrament of confession. One may wonder why Christ had to send out the entire twelve disciples to buy food which eventually he did not eat. He was only trying to create an enabling environment for the sacrament of confession because he knew a sinner would be coming. The woman came at the odd time when probably the water had been stirred and so dirty. By requesting for a cup of water which ordinarily Jews and Samaritans cannot share together, Jesus was asking the woman to surrender her sins represented in the dirty water. Her arguments defending why she wouldn’t give Christ a cup of water represent the arguments most of us make to justify our sins or why we shouldn’t go for confession. The woman kept on changing husbands probably because she wasn’t satisfied with them and this represents how we keep moving from one sin to another in the name of looking for ultimate satisfaction. It could be from pornography to masturbation and to fornication. Today, Jesus wants us to abandon those sins we have married as husbands and follow him. He wants us to give up our jar of dirty water to the priest at the confessional that we may have in us as we go home, the clean and living water which will purify and sanctify our souls.
Beloved friends, this period of lent is a wonderful time to accomplish this. At lent, we are called to return to God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. God is ever ready to welcome us for He loves us unconditionally. St. Paul reminds us in the second reading (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8) that if Christ died for us even while we were still sinners, how much more will he do for us now that we have been justified through his blood. That is why through the messages we receive during this Lenten period, Christ still invites us to himself, the Rock, from which the life-giving water flows. He invites us to give up our jars of dirty water in exchange for the life-giving water. As we approach Jesus this Lenten season, we have to open up ourselves before him as the Samaritan woman did. Jesus will assist us to know ourselves better and the best place to do this is at the confessional before the priest. Why not utilize this opportunity to have a personal encounter with Jesus? This encounter is always life-transforming and you cannot but share your experiences with others who will in turn come to encounter Jesus themselves. Happy Sunday. God loves you.
Ps: Kindly remember me in your prayers as I celebrate my birthday next Wednesday 26th March 2014. – Uwakwe Chibuike MFC