HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A.
THEME: PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH GOD.
BY: Fr Cyril UNACHUKWU CCE.
There are always moments of difficulties and challenges in every endeavour. Our Spiritual Journey in this world is not devoid of these moments. In the midst of these challenges, every successful encounter with God within our Spiritual Journey is one that positively makes us different from whom we used to be and at the same time empowers us to reach out to others with the good news of our encounter and experience with God. May we daily encounter God’s power that integrally transforms us for good; Amen.
It is often easy to condemn the people of Israel because of their attitudes and obvious poverty of memory. In a very short time they have forgotten God’s magnanimity to them and the prodigies with which He freed them from Egypt. In a moment of lack and thirst, they turned against God and his servant Moses; “why did you bring us out of Egypt? They said. Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?” (Exodus 17:3-7). On the one hand, this scene is very informative about how forgetful human beings can be, especially of the good things they have received from God and from fellow human beings, in the face of lack, challenges or difficulties. On the other hand, we discover how patient, understanding, kind and merciful God is with us, even when we totally go against Him and misunderstand His love and good purposes for us as a result of human naivety and short-sightedness. With the miracle of the water from the rock at Massah and Meribah, the doubt of the people of the Israel about God’s presence with them was cleared, though their gullibility was not totally eradicated. Our gullibilities are the Devil’s strongholds of staging us against God. The experience of the people of Israel invites us to learn how to manage our gullibilities; and especially never to lose sight of God’s presence in our midst and of His unflinching fidelity in our moments of lack. Mismanagement and lack of mastery of our gullibilities and of our moments of lack certainly obstruct our relationship with God and our respective personal encounters with Him. Every healthy spiritual life is the fruit of different stages of encounter with God.
It was certainly a unique encounter that the Samaritan Woman made with Jesus in the Gospel Reading of today (John 4:5-42). Whereas the Israelites in the desert drank of the water from the rock, this woman came face to face with the real water which Jesus spoke of in these words; “anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.” This water is Jesus Himself who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Every encounter with God invites us to let go of our gullibilities and to master the impulses our conditions of lack instigate in us. This the woman did in a very exceptional manner. First of all, she listened with an open and docile heart, acknowledged her mistakes and afterwards she made the needed decision; namely “she put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did.” Until we decide to put down our gullibilities and fears and past mistakes, our encounter with God will neither be complete nor fruitful. Until we face the realities of the dark corners of our lives with humility, courage and faith in the promises, mercy and power of God, we are constantly held back from sharing the joy of the Good News of our encounter with God. The Israelites, as they gradually matured in their understanding of their relationship with God, their experiences in the desert became a Mission Statement and an act of faith to be handed on from generation to generation. Likewise, filled with joy, the Samaritan Woman went to announce the presence of the Messiah to all who cared to listen. She became a Missionary that announced the presence of the Messiah to her people and eventually led them to Conversion. Our story does not stop at encountering God personally. It must always go further to bear concrete witness that helps and inspires others to make the same experience we have made. This is the Missionary dimension of every encounter with God; namely, bearing witness to “the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us” (Romans 5:1-2, 5-8). This love is inexhaustible! It is the love that establishes us in the state of grace. It is the power that enables us to be docile to the workings of grace and never to harden our hearts to the Voice of God that constantly speaks to us through various means and in any place we find ourselves. Established in this love, we become nourished by the Living Water that is the Word of God (Is 55:10-11; Eph 5:26).
Heavenly Father, may we never lose sight of You when things go tough. Grant us the courage to let go of our fears, past mistakes and insecurities and may our daily encounter with You transform us into faithful and fruitful instruments of leading our brothers and sisters to You; Amen. Happy Sunday;
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