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View the Webcast to listen to the most recent homily.
 
March 19, 2017

Third Sunday of Lent  

The thought of being without water is very frightening. Water is essential for life – without it, we die! That’s why the Israelites were panicking as we heard in the first reading. In the history of the Israelite people, the passing through the Red Sea was a great event in which God showed His love and power. He freed His people from slavery in Egypt. But the journey from that peak experience through the heat of the desert was a long series of trials and tests of their faith. Often the people questioned whether God cared about them at all.

 

In the first reading from the Book of Exodus today, we read of one of those desert experiences in which the Israelites were challenged to grow in faith and trust. In their panic, they feared that they would die from thirst so they began to revolt against God and Moses. God did not lead His people into the desert to let them die of thirst, so working through Moses, He performed a miracle and produced gushing water from a hard, dry rock. Just as God had saved His people from slavery by having them pass through the Red Sea on dry land, and fed them with manna and quail, He gave them an abundance of water in the lifeless desert. The result was that they were able to handle their fear and panic, and grew in their faith and trust of God.

 

In the Gospel today, we hear the account of the “Samaritan Woman at the Well”. As the story unfolds, Jesus was on His final journey to Jerusalem and the Cross. He passed through Samaria and came to Jacob’s Well where He sat down alone. While He was waiting for the Apostles to return from the town with some provisions, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, and a conversation started between the two of them. The conversation started off simply. Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water. His request surprised her because she was a Samaritan and a woman. Jews and Samaritans would never speak to each other.

 

As Jesus responded to her questions, He spoke to her of “LIVING WATER”. She asked where He would get the water since he had no bucket. Jesus responded: “WHOEVER DRINKS THE WATER I GIVE HIM WILL NEVER BE THIRSTY: THE WATER I GIVE WILL BECOME A FOUNTAIN WITHIN HIM GUSHING UP TO PROVIDE ETERNAL LIFE.”

 

The woman, on a practical level became very interested: “SIR, GIVE ME THIS WATER, SO THAT I WILL NEVER BE THIRSTY AGAIN!” Jesus then moved the conversation to a deeper level when He said: “GO CALL YOUR HUSBAND AND COME BACK.”

 

Jesus confronted the woman about her adulterous life (in her past, she had been married five times and was presently living with a man who was not her husband). The truth of her past life – style was so painful that she tried to change the subject and talk about a religious dispute concerning the best temple for worship; IS IT IN SAMARIA OR IS IT IN JERUSALEM? Jesus took her dodge and invited her to Faith. She was moved to confess that she yearned for the Messiah. Jesus then told her that He is that Messiah: “I WHO SPEAK WITH YOU AM HE.” “I AM” (the same title given by God to Moses in the desert).

 

The woman had a profound religious experience of the presence and acceptance of God. The Samaritan woman told all the people in the village what had happened at the well. The result was: “No longer does our faith depend on your story. We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is really the Savior of the world.”

 

Lent is our time to thirst for God! Like the people of Israel, we sometimes feel that we are losing control over our lives or our future. Like the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well – lonely, needing acceptance, and feeling frustration - we begin to realize that adjustments have to be made in our lives that often - we are trying to quench our spiritual thirst with something other than God - like trying to satisfy a physical thirst with salt water. The more we drink, the thirstier we get.

 

God offers us Lent as a challenge where we can encounter God so that He can bring us back to life and quench our thirst for the Living God. Just as God didn’t lead the Israelites into the desert to abandon them and let them die of thirst, He has not led us into the difficulties we experience in life to watch us suffer alone. Nor does God want to embarrass us with our sinfulness any more than Jesus embarrassed the Woman at the Well. In her case as in ours, God is thirsting for us as much as much as we are thirsting for Him.

 In every human heart there is a thirst that no water can quench. There is a restlessness that no success can satisfy. There is a void no material object can fill. Saint Augustine calls it “spiritual restlessness.” He says: “OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS UNTIL THEY REST IN YOU.”

 

The “Good News” of today’s scripture is that can and will satisfy the thirst of our hearts and the void in our lives. Jesus is the “SAVING WATER” Who has come from heaven to satisfy our thirst. “Whoever drinks the water that I will give, will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give will become a spring which will provide life-giving water and eternal life.”

 

 
St. Mary of the Assumption Basilica
Basilica of Saint Mary of the Assumption
A Parish Family for the Mid-Ohio Valley since 1838.
506 Fourth Street, Marietta, Ohio 45750-1901
(740) 373-3643    Email: info@stmarysmarietta.org