HOMILY FOR THE (3rd) THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT, YEAR A
Theme: THIRST FOR LIVING WATER
Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: Some development experts from Europe came to a very remote village in Africa to provide some infrastructure that would add value to the lives of the villagers. There was only one Well in the whole village and so the development experts proposed to build a borehole or a dam and run pipes that will go to each house. The villagers had a different opinion; they preferred the central village Well to the dam or borehole. They spoke about how much they cherished the Well, because it was the point of contact; the Well was a common meeting place and it was around this well they get information about up-coming events in the village; it was around the well that the women tell stories and get news about births and deaths, marriages. In short, the Well was the fulcrum on which the village rotates. The people were emotionally attached to the Well and were not ready to have anything that will take away the joy and unity they derived from the presence of the Well.
Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a Well and she spoke to him with passion about the importance of the Well. She asked Jesus: “Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” The Well has a historical importance to the Samaritan people. In life we are always attached to something: sometimes we feel so attached to our past, or to our material belonging, to our tribes, families, friends, villages, favourite foods and drinks, and to many other temporal things. The Samaritan woman was attached to a well that does not last forever, but Jesus offers her something that will last forever – the living water. He said to her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: The name of the Samaritan woman is not mentioned and so she represents people who have suffered broken relationships and failed marriages. She would be counted among people who have suffered failed marriages are often condemned and considered as failure. Rabbis do not talk to women publicly, but Jesus was not worried about that law, he was rather concerned about her soul. This woman had married five husbands and was living with the sixth husband. We cannot say what exactly the problem was, but we can guess this woman must have felt that life was just not fair to her. It was hard to have a broken heart once, but it must have taken the grace of God to mend a heart that has been broken five times. Each broken marriage was like dying and rising again. Jesus identified her as someone whose heart is very thirsty for true love, and for a deeper meaning of life. In reality she was in search of water that will satisfy this thirst. Some commentators say that this woman could not come to the well in the early morning or in the cool evening when other villagers gather. She must have suffered insults and persecution from judgmental villagers who saw her as a lose woman. She came to the well at an unusual time, during the daytime when nobody was there and she met Jesus who was waiting to offer her a new life.
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION: In his interaction with the Samaritan Woman, Jesus teaches us the power of interpersonal communication and evangelization. He appeared as an ordinary man in an ordinary place and began by asking the woman for ordinary water before he spoke to her about extraordinary water. Even though he was a Jew, he deliberately approached the Samaritan Woman and requested for water. He intended to break the walls that separated Jews from Samaritans and build a bridge of interaction between this separated people.
GOD USES THE WEAK: Despite her sinfulness Jesus used her as an instrument for the conversion of her people. God is very fond of people who are weak, the least, the outcast, and people who are despised and he uses them to perform mighty works. God chose all kinds of people through the ages, he chose Abraham despite his old age, he worked with Noah even when he had a problem with alcohol, he chose Rahab who was a prostitute, Samson who was a womanizer, he chose David and Jeremiah even when they were too young, he chose Peter who denied him, he chose Zaccheus not minding that he was a very short man, he chose the twelve apostles even though they were not from royal or rich families. This is the reason why Jesus declares: I have not come for the righteous but for sinners (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32). He choses us not for what we are but for what he can make out of us; he choses ordinary people and makes them extraordinary.
THIRST FOR LIVING WATER: God does not only uplift ordinary people to a higher pedestal, he also satisfies the hungry and quenches the thirst of a dry throat. When he people of Israel were very thirsty in the desert and they could not find an oasis from which to quench their thirst. They complained and cried out to Moses to find them some water. The Lord made water to gush forth from the rock to demonstrate he could make the impossible possible. In moments of acute thirst we desperately search for water to quench our thirst. In that crucial moment of thirst we are attracted to all kinds of liquids at our disposal: soda minerals, wine or other forms of drinks. However, in our quest to quench thirst we are quick to gulp down any liquid and after a short while the thirst comes back again, until we find the real water.
We experience physical thirst when our throats are dry and we also experience spiritual thirst when our hearts and souls are dry. Our hearts thirst for love, our minds thirst for knowledge, our souls thirst for the living God, for the living water and for the living bread. The living water is “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We never stop being thirsty as long as we live. Jesus promises satisfaction to all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A/ Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2,5-8; John 4:5-42