Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

First Reading: The first reading is rich with images and layers of meaning. You might be surprised at the grumbling of the people against Moses; after all, God had delivered them from Egypt. It appears that they are really dissatisfied with God and ask, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” The response of God to Moses’ please is an unconditional gesture of concern for the people.

Psalm 95: The psalmist, in today’s psalm, issues a fivefold invitation to praise.

Second Reading: Paul’s writing is complex, but his message is simple: Christ died for all humans, and, in doing so, proved God’s great and unconditional love for all.

Gospel: Jews were not supposed to speak to Samaritans, much less share drinking vessels with them. Jewish men were never supposed to converse with a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman. But cultural division and socially accepted discrimination doesn’t stop Jesus in today’s Gospel.

Reflection: Are you thirsty? We take water for granted. Just turn on the faucet and it is there. But for most people who’ve ever lived on this planet, including most living right now, water is not so easy to come by. It’s a life and death struggle to find, and even harder to keep through famines, wars, and disasters. With toxins creeping into the water supply across the developed world, it will be a wonder if we can hold on to the luxury of easy water indefinitely. Are you thirsty?

In today’s gospel, Jesus helps the woman at the well go from a literal understanding of water to his gift of living water (the Spirit) by telling her everything she had done. He helped her come to a new self-understanding that enabled her to witness to Jesus as the Messiah. Yes, Jesus is truly what he appears to be: a prophet, but more: the savior of the world.

We must realize that at the time of Jesus, Jews were not supposed to speak to Samaritans, much less share drinking vessels. Jewish men were never supposed to converse with a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman. But cultural division and socially-accepted discrimination didn’t stop Jesus. In fact, Jesus initiates the conversation with the woman of Samaria who is sitting alone at the town well in the noon day of heat. She is so dumbfounded by this that she forgets her societal status and blurts, “How can you ask me for a drink?” Thus begins one of the longest and most fascinating conversations of the New Testament.

Jesus asks for a drink, but then reveals he is the source of water that will quench thirst for all eternity. The woman then reverses the dialogue and says, “Give me this water.” At this point, the conversation shifts and the testimony of faith begins to unfold. Jesus, aware that she has been married five times, tells her to get her husband. In doing so, Jesus recites details of her life that no stranger could know. She asks Jesus, “Are you the Messiah who will tell us everything?” And the world is forever changes with his response, “I am he, the one speaking to you.”

The conversation that unfolds between Jesus and the Samaritan woman reveals what happens when we drink the life-giving water Jesus offers: we come face-to-face with the Savior of the world, we admit the truth of our own lives, we run to proclaim Jesus’ presence and message to all who will hear. Encounter, truth, proclamation – this is the movement of our Lenten journey toward transformation and anew life. Are you thirsty?

Question for reflection: What does my Lenten encounter with Jesus bring me in my discipleship?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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