March 15, 2020 - 3rd Sunday in Lent

(Ex 17:3–7; Rom 5:1–2, 5–8; John 4:5–42)

The Exodus reading presents us with a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual life—that of thirst. In the desert, the Israelites long for the more easily accessible waters of Egypt. Yet God shows them that if they trust him, they can be sure of water anywhere. With God, one isn’t forced to fearfully hug the banks of the Nile like slaves to stay alive; one may chart a course straight out of the desert with faith confidently knowing that he will provide. In this desert of modern life, we may likewise be certain that God will give us the living water we need to survive. We see in the Gospel scene a kind of nuptial quality about it because a well is where a groom would come to meet his bride. Like a bridegroom lovingly seeking his bride, Jesus ardently desires this Samaritan woman (and her people whom she represents) to be reunited with God. The Samaritan woman has been a bride five times, and Jesus points this out. But then he goes beyond reminding her of her failure by reaching into the recesses of her deepest wounds of rejection and lack of love to tell her that he is, indeed, the long-awaited one, the Messiah—the one who will fulfill her deepest thirsts and longings. Through her, Jesus invites the Samaritan people, who were separated from the people of Israel, to return to their true bridegroom. Jesus also encourages his disciples to look at the world anew and to see beyond the borders of Israel and beyond the national and racial limits of Jacob (Israel). “Open your eyes and see! The fields are shining for harvest!” he exclaims. By extension, he also invites all of us who come to him with open, thirsting hearts to join him at every Mass—at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—so that we might say with the Samaritans: “This is truly the savior of the world!”