3rd Sunday of Lent (Fr. Francis)

by | Mar 13, 2020


It is said that some years ago a vessel sailing on the northern coast of the South American continent was observed to make signals of distress. When hailed by another vessel, they reported themselves as “Dying for water!”

“Dip it up then,” was the response. “You are in the mouth of Amazon river.”

There was fresh water all around them, and they had nothing to do but to dip it up, and yet they were dying of thirst because they thought themselves surrounded by sea water.

People are often ignorant of God and without His Word. How sad that they should perish for lack of knowledge.

Today’s readings are centered on Baptism and new life.  Today’s liturgy makes use of the symbol of water to refer to our relationship with God. Water represents God’s Spirit who comes to us in Baptism. Baptism is the outward, symbolic sign of a deep Reality, the coming of God as a Force penetrating every aspect of a person’s life. The Spirit quenches our spiritual thirst. Just as water in the desert was life-giving for the wandering Israelites, the water of a true, loving relationship with Jesus is life-giving for those who accept him as Lord and Savior.  We are assembled here in the Church to share in this water of eternal life and salvation.  The Holy Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the Sacraments of God in the Church are the primary sources for the living water of Divine Grace.  Washed in it at Baptism, renewed by its abundance at each Eucharist, invited to it in every proclamation of the Word, and daily empowered by the Spirit, we are challenged by today’s Gospel to remain thirsty for the living water which only God can give. 

As the deer longs for running stream, so my soul longs for you, my God” (Ps 42:1). Today, the holy Mother Church encourages us to come to Christ the Eternal Living Water. She calls us to break all cultural barriers and prejudices in order to let the eternal living water flow into all hearts.

Water is one of the most important requirements for the sustenance of all lives. In fact, according to scientific studies, water makes up to 60-75 percent of the total body fluid. Hence, total withdrawal or extraction of water from any person will result to death. In the Old Testament, water is a common metaphor for spiritual satisfaction (Is 12, 3)

The first reading of today tells us of the ordeal of the Israelites in the wilderness. After four hundred and thirty years of slavery in Egypt, God came to deliver them (Ex 12, 40). Yet, they grumbled against Moses, and consequently, against God because they were thirsty. God instructed Moses to strike the rock. From it water came forth. The Israelites drank, and were satisfied.

Both the rock Moses struck, and the water that gushed out from it allegorically and metaphorically prefigure Christ. He is both the rock of our salvation, and our eternal living water. On this third Sunday of Lent, we also need a spiritual drink from the living water that flows from Christ, the Rock of Ages. Hence, we must: “Draw water from the well of salvation” (Ish 12:3) in order to quench our spiritual thirst this Lenten season.

In the second reading, Paul described how the love of Christ, “is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Here, Paul implicitly mentions water by the use of the verb: “to pour.” He reminds us also of how helpless our life was and could still be without Christ, the Living Water. In other words, through his death, Christ made himself the source of our own life.

In today’s gospel, Jesus presents himself to the Samaritan woman as the Eternal Living Water. This underscores the importance of Christ in our life. The lesson from this, is we must not discriminate against people on the basis of their race or culture. Jesus knew quite well who the woman was (a Samaritan) and her life history. Yet, he approached her for a drink. Jesus’ aim was actually, to draw her closer to himself, the Eternal Living Water.

Hence, by breaking the silence and going against the social customs, and prejudices between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus becomes the gift of God to this woman and her people. Like Jesus therefore, we must be ready to take risks. This is by challenging the unjust rules of social structures and norms. It is by breaking down walls that excludes people, and by opening up possibilities to others. This is, so that they can experience Christ.

Finally, the argument that ensued between Jesus and the woman represents the obstacles that we must overcome in order to draw people to Christ, the Eternal Living Water. In other words, they represent the “rational” stubbornness” that the society will present to us before they finally yield to the gospel. However, if we ourselves are connected to the Eternal Living Water, we shall have a better and more convincing witness without getting weary.

May we find our strength and courage in Christ, the living God to lead a life of a missionary disciple! Amen.

Fr. A. Francis HGN