Third Sunday of Lent
Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2 & 5-8; Jn 4:5-42 (Year A)
“O God, you are my God; for you my soul is thirsting, like a dry, weary land without water.”
The Psalmist’s prayer describes our longing for God as a deep instinctive thirst. Without water, the land withers and dies. Without God, our lives become a desert of frustrated hope.
Such was the plight of Israel’s fleeing tribes as they encountered the Sinai wilderness for the first time. The God who had heard their cries, who had delivered them from bondage, was soon forgotten. “Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’”
Later generations were to remember this incident as a cautionary tale, a reminder that without God our frailty hardens into rebellion, a rebellion that isolates us from God, the creator and sustainer of all life.
“Oh that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test, when they tried me, though they saw my work.”
On that occasion the God of Israel had answered the rebellion of his people with water springing from the rock. Later generations would see Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s promise to sustain his people through their wilderness of sin and need.
Lent is the season that calls us to acknowledge the wilderness of sin, a failing love that so easily creeps into our lives.
The encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman reminds us that a loving God leads us to himself beyond our many needs. From the beginning this meeting became a reassurance to any sinner feeling that they had strayed so far as to put themselves beyond God’s care.
The Samaritan woman was surprised that Jesus had approached her, asking for a drink. “What? You are a Jew and you ask me for a drink?”
Many at that time considered the rift between the Jewish and Samaritan communities to be beyond healing. As Jesus reached beyond the prejudice of this Samaritan woman, so he reaches beyond the defences and fears of the sinner.
A meeting begun with a simple request for water became the revelation of Christ as the source of life. “Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a living spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.”
During Lent let us recognise our sin as the well that promises abundance, but can never satisfy. May every unfulfilled longing bring us into the presence of Christ, the living spring at the heart of our being.
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