Friday, February 25, 2005

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year A
Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 94; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-42

(Please note that this will be most brief as the Gospel is reeeaaalllyyy long this Sunday. Also, this is only the gist; it still needs some work.)

An oft-repeated criticism of Christian faith goes this way. "You Christians don't care about what's happening around you. Because you hope for Heaven, you can put off the things of today." The image conveyed is that Christians exist like Little Orphan Annie -- The sun can come out tomorrow; we don't need it today. Nothing could be further from the truth and our encounter with the Samaritan woman demonstates this.

The encounter begins in confusion and ends with true clarity. That's what's behind the discussion about what to drink. In the ancient world, before pumping stations and purification, water came in two forms. You could get water from a cistern which was drinkable but usually brakish and stale. It was better to get water from a spring, a source of water that is always fresh. The euphamism for spring water is "living water." Hence, she's taking about fresh water; Jesus talks about water that remains always fresh. Because Christ leads her from confusion to see that which her heart has longed for. Jesus leads her though to healing from her sins and thus she is changed. The source of her shame, the multiple husbands issue, becomes the agency for proclaiming the Messiah to her neighbors. "Come see the one who told me everything I had ever done."

Thus transfiguration that we desire is already available: the life of faith and the sacraments of the Church. The life of faith opens the vista of not only one's own existence but also the foundations of reality. The last thing, the very last thing, this woman expected to happen today was stumbling upon her Savior. She encounters him, not in the unusual moment, but in the midst of everyday work. I am willing to bet that all of us want a more profound life of faith. The Samaritan woman shows us that Jesus is waiting, thirsting for our expression of our faith, and He is waiting beside your kitchen sink, your office desk, behind the steering wheel of your car. He is waiting for you to ask, to give you living water to nourish your daily living of the faith.

The life of the Sacraments also allow us to taste living water. Jesus directs her to see that true worship is not locked into a location. Real worship is in spirit and in truth. Each of the sacraments give us grace so that all the dimensions of our lives become consecrated to His purposes. Even if we are separated by time and space, the worship we offer is real because we live a spiritual life rooted in grace and the truth of our faith.

The Rising Sun of the Beatific Vision of Heaven will come out on some tomorrow. Through Faith and the Sacraments however, the finger shafts of dawn dance about the fringes of our horizon. So that we may finish this Lent well, through our penances, let us beg for the living water we need to live.

No comments: