Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119)
Several times over the past week, I have returned to the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent. That was the last time most of us attended Church, when we were all being encouraged to take steps to meet the Covid-19 pandemic head on, including having no public Masses, or even public funerals being celebrated throughout most of the world By the following Sunday we were banned world-wide and across all denominations from gathering in places of worship. Was that just yesterday? Even time seems to have collapsed as we all enter into this extraordinary Lenten season!
The Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent every year is the extraordinary story of Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman at a community well, as he and his disciples travelled by foot through this non-Jewish territory. They were clearly thirsty and hungry after a morning of walking, and the Samaritan woman who was somewhat of an outcast from her community, was getting water at noon when no one else was at the well. We, like the Samaritan woman, needed to hear a few things from The Son of Man who was the Son of God, to help us in our current journey forward.
First Jesus made it clear that he is the source of life-giving water. Water from a well is one thing – to cleanse, to wash, to hydrate our bodies, and to allow us to cook our food, clean our homes and wash our dishes. The water that Jesus gives from his well-spring of life, is no less, and is indeed much more, life-giving. It is super-important to each human life, and we, like the Samaritan woman can so easily not even taste it, not even know it exists. Jesus holds this life-giving water of his life and his mercy to each man, woman and child, to slake our thirst, to cleanse our lives, to wash our minds and strengthen our bodies. Will we be wise enough to go to Jesus, and ask for this life-giving water while we are ‘locked down’?
Secondly, Jesus calls us to truth in our hearts; we are to accept the Truth, written over eons into the Holy Scriptures and we are to speak the Truth to our selves, and to God. Jesus conducted an informal ‘confession’ with the woman of Samaria. Will I, will we, take this opportunity of spending time isolated from the rat-race of our ‘normal’ daily lives, to speak truthfully, face to face, with Jesus, and there find healing and help for all those areas of ‘rot, mold and punk’ in our lives?
Thirdly, Jesus had an interesting discussion with the Samaritan woman about where one needs to be to worship God, to go to God for help, and to exercise our spiritual muscles. She said to him that he, as a Jew, always thought one had to go to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh, and that Samaritan people knew that that wasn’t true – they could go up on their mountain, just as well. Jesus counters, that “the time is coming and is now here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” Indeed, Jesus here seems to be speaking directly to us, in March 2020: The time is already here when true worshippers can’t go to Jerusalem, to Mass, to any building of worship. We have no choice but to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What does this mean for me? What does this mean for us, as followers of Jesus?
Fourthly Jesus address in this passage, the issue of food supply. The disciples had gone into the town’s market to purchase some food for themselves and Jesus while he was talking to the woman at the well. When they came back, he refused the food, telling his disciples that he had ‘food to eat that you don’t know about’. The disciples were confused, thinking that someone else had brought him something to eat. Jesus ended that discussion by teaching us about real nourishment. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” This sentence gives us pause to consider the Carmelite nun who lived simply on daily holy communion for a decade or more, St. Padre Pio who was reputed to eat only a little each week, and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who ate ‘like a bird’. Perhaps as committed and disciplined followers of Jesus, we need to focus on doing the will of Father God, rather than on stock-piling food on our shelves.
Fifthly, at the end of this scene, Jesus directs his disciples to actively go forward, to see how the fields of life are ripe for harvesting , to find the fruits of the labours of godly men and women, beggars as much as church people, who have sowed the seed of the Word of God into all the societies, cities and communities of the world. Will I enter into this work, during this time of social isolation and the pestilence that is in our land, to ‘do the will of him who sent Jesus and complete his work’ ?
Finally, do I know, do we know, like the Samaritan people of Sychar on that warm day, that Jesus is truly the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Messiah, of the world?
Let us enter into the wisdom of Jesus as we head into this as-yet-undefined period of a serious purging of our land, our society, and our own human hearts.
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to God! (Psalm 81:1)
Come back to me, with all your heart
Don’t let fear keep us apart.
Long have I waited for your coming home to Me
And living deeply our new life
Gregory Norbert, quoting Yahweh through the prophet Hosea, and throughout Judeo Christian scriptures
www.gospelmysteryoftheday.ca & Gospel Mystery of the Day on Facebook
Soli ad gloriam Dei
Beverly Illauq lives in Kemptville, Ontario, where she greets each morning by seeking the Gospel Mystery of the Day - the Word of the Lord for direct and practical application to the specific challenges & joys of the day.