Homily for 3rd Sunday in Lent, Cycle A

posted Mar 18, 2020, 3:52 PM by Michelle Massung   [ updated Mar 18, 2020, 3:52 PM ]

Gospel                        JN 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 for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, the Woman at the Well


            Those of you that see me walking around the rectory or attend various meetings with me notice that I carry with me a very large mug.  Here it is.  It allows me to fill it up with plenty of ice and water.  As a diabetic, I need to drink a lot of water and I drink about 3-4 of these each day.  Yet, regardless of how many of these I drink in one day, I still wake up thirsty and start the whole process over again.  The Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel brings her bucket to Jacob’s well to fill it with water.  Because she is doing this at noon, scripture scholars believe that she is an outcast from society because she is living with a man that is not her husband.  In essence, she is a public sinner.  It is at this point, at the very brightest part of the day that she comes out of her darkness and into the light of Jesus.  She is thirsty and needs water to quench her thirst. He tells her that she, just like me and my large mug, will continue to be thirsty if we continue to seek water from this well rather than the living water of Jesus.  Also please note that even as an outcast, she runs into town to spread the good news to those that persecuted her.  The gift that Jesus gives to her is not only the water of everlasting life, but his unconditional love and acceptance, even her, a sinner.  She also has a hard time recognizing Jesus because the Messiah was to be a great warrior to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land and conquer the Romans who had been oppressing the Jews.  Jesus is the exact opposite of what they had expected to see when the Messiah came.  Don’t we also encounter Jesus in ways and in people that we do not expect? 

            What is Jesus saying here, that we should not drink any water? No, what Jesus is saying is that the well represents earthly desires and pleasures.  If we keep coming to that well, we will never be satisfied.  I found this out first hand when I was living a life of dissipation, of eating and drinking to excess and seeking worldly pleasures.  It was only after I had been welcomed back by Jesus that I have true happiness in my life.

            Jesus tells us that he has the gift of everlasting water.  What does he mean by this? He is referring to our Baptism in not only water but in the Holy Spirit.  It is up to each of us to accept this gift or to reject it and focus our lives, not on the well of earthly pleasures, but rather, on the spiritual water he gives us and the spiritual food he gives to us in the Eucharist.  During Lent, we are called to fast, give alms, and to pray.  Normally when we think of fasting, we think of food or drink.  For me, it is giving up sweets. But what about fasting from other earthly pleasures such as shopping, watching TV, or being on the internet, or looking at pornography, or any other of things that bring us temporal pleasure in our lives?  By fasting from these items, we will be more open to receive the gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Our hearts will not be too full to accept His love for us.  This is the whole purpose for fasting, to empty ourselves so we can be filled by the love of God.  This is the true purpose of Lent; that as we empty ourselves of our earthly pleasures, Jesus can fill us with his everlasting happiness in the Eucharist and with the living water he offers us today, the water that will quench our thirst now and forever.  This week, examine what you need to fast from in your lives that are preventing you from being open to the love of Christ in your life.  In this way, you will be more open to receive the graces and living water that quench your spiritual thirst now and forever.