THE HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
author of every mercy and of all goodness,
who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving
have shown us a remedy for sin,
look graciously on this confession of our
that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,
may always be lifted up by your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.
One of the greatest films ever made was the film Lawrence of Arabia
with the actor, Peter O’Toole, in the starring role.
One of the most dramatic scenes in the film occurs when Peter O’Toole and a Saudi guide are crossing the desert of Arabia and they come upon a water well.
Thirsty, Peter O’Toole tells the guide to draw him a drink of water. The guide seems reluctant but draws some water and gives it to Peter O’Toole.
As Peter O’Toole drinks the water we see, far off in the distance, a man riding a camel coming toward the well. Before Peter finishes drinking the water the man on the camel raises his rifle and kills O’Toole’s guide.
We learn from the man on the camel that the well belongs to his clan and he could tell from the garb of the guide that he belonged to a rival clan and so the law of the desert was that his life was forfeit for drawing water from a well that did not belong to his clan.
The well that Jesus was sitting next to on the ground was dug by the patriarch, Jacob, many centuries before, on land that was now part of Samaria. It is possible that since this well belonged to the local community Jesus could have drawn up some water for himself with impunity if he had had a bucket to lower down into the well.
But Jesus did not have a bucket and so while he did not violate any rules by drawing water himself, he did something that was shocking to the Samaritan women.
He spoke to her!
What was doubly shocking was that he a Jew was speaking to a Samaritan and a Samaritan woman at that; Jews did not speak with samaritans and Jewish rabbis did speak to strange women.
It was doubly shocking.
But don’t let those aspects of the narrative be the only thing you focus on.
The thing you should focus on is
We take water for granted.
We have only to turn on a faucet and will have all the water we want.
We take the availability of water for granted.
Water does not have the same importance for us that it has for people living in an area of arid desert-like land.
Perhaps because water was such a vital factor in sustaining life in lands where our Judeo-Christian heritage was formed, it assumed a very important role in the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist by being immersed in the water of the river Jordan.
He told Niccodemus that unless a man was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit he could not have eternal life.
In his encounter with the Samaritan woman Jesus identifies water with that which quenches the souls thirst for immortal life:
sanctifying grace which can only be given by him.
The reply that Jesus makes to the Samaritan woman he addresses to each of us:
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…everyone who drinks the water (from this well) will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become for him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
We first ‘drank’ the water Jesus gives us when the water of baptism was poured on our head.
Then every time we received the sacraments of Jesus Christ he satisfied our thirst by giving us an infusion of his sanctifying grace.
Only a fool would not take advantage of Jesus Christ’s offer to let Jesus be a “spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”
I conclude with this beautiful thought: just as Jesus wants us to thirst for his love he thirsts for our love.
As he hung, dying on the cross, his next to the last words he uttered was when he said: “I thirst.”
The Roman soldiers thought that he wanted water, but since he knew that within a minute of saying that he would say: “It is finished” and die he was not referring to water.
In saying on the cross “I thirst” Jesus was saying to us “I thirst for your love. As I now die on this cross out of love for you that you may have eternal life, I ask you to die to sin out of love for me.”
That is what Lent is all about:
dying to sin so that we might live in the love of Jesus Christ and his Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when the water of baptism was poured on our head.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,