March 19th, 2017 … Third Sunday of Lent

Gospel

John 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Homily

When I was ten years old, I was walking my dog Joey, around my neighborhood. On that walk, I found a set of black rosary beads lying on the sidewalk. Being a cradle Catholic, I immediately picked them up, dusted them off, and looked around to see if I could find who these beads belonged to. I found no one. I slipped the beads into my pocket and brought them home. I still have them. In fact, I can tell you now that I count these beads as one of my most treasured possessions. They are worn and a bead is missing and they have been repaired countless times. And for as long as I can remember, they have occupied a place on my nightstand since I that day I brought them home. When I have been worried about a decision that I needed to make I held them in my hands and prayed. When I was suffering, I clutched them even harder and prayed even longer. When I felt overwhelmed with happiness by the abundance of God’s blessings, I reached for them with great anticipation and joyfully prayed in thanksgiving. Folks have given me as gifts some very beautiful rosary beads. I recently received from my sister a gorgeous set that were crafted in Italy and blessed by Pope Francis. But my go to rosary beads are the worn set that has accompanied me most of my life. These beads have created the occasion where I can reflect on the gospel as I recited the mysteries. These beads have facilitated my need to speak with God and lay before him my desires, my concerns, my fears. These beads would have meant nothing to me if I felt that God was not listening. If I never saw the fruits of my prayers then I guarantee that these beads would have ended up in the back of a drawer somewhere. If God never revealed himself to me through my prayers I would not have continued to pray.

In today’s gospel, we see a progression in the responses given by the nameless Samaritan woman at the well. Upon encountering Jesus she says, “”How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—

Then upon hearing of Jesus speak about the living water she asks, “Where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?”

She continues, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty.”

As Jesus continues to reveal himself to her, she exclaims, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.” Then says, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”

Then, upon realizing that her encounter with Jesus brought her face to face with the Messiah she proclaims, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?”

This exchange between Jesus and the woman at the well is emblematic of one’s faith journey. We are introduced to Jesus, either formally through religious education or informally through the actions of others living out their faith. We ask questions. We experience an attraction that cannot be rationalized or explained. This draw, moves us to delve just little deeper and explore Jesus. Then the miracle happens. We find that in reaching out to Jesus, he responds. We begin to feel his presence. And like the woman at the well, our eyes are opened. Our hearts begin the lifelong process of taking in Christ’s presence. Then the beauty of proclaiming Christ is realized. We proclaim Jesus when we share with those around us the times he made himself known to us. We further proclaim Jesus when we allow him to work through us and share Christ’s love for us all by the way we treat each other.

I can tell you that my old set of rosary beads represents to me a tangible expression of Jesus in my life. I know that each and every prayer I said was listened to. Squeezing these beads and running them through my fingers, reciting prayer after prayer, pondering those events in the life of Jesus depicted by the mysteries, and laying before God my needs and wants. As I reflect upon the fullness of my life, I see the loving response of Jesus to each and every prayer that I brought to him. And very much like the woman at the well, I have the awareness that each exchange with Jesus brings with it a deeper understanding of who Jesus is as his presence inside of me grows.

Today, the living water that Jesus spoke about is present in us as the Holy Spirit. Our response to its promptings make the will of God come alive. Receiving the Eucharist as a community and bringing it beyond the walls of this church, give us the opportunity to be present to others seeking the living water.

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