Readings: Exodus 17:3-7, Ps. 95:1-2,6-9, Romans 5:1-2,5-8, John 4:5-42
“Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” (John 4:39)
Last Sunday, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain to show them a glimpse of heaven, to give them something to hold on to, that in the midst of the arrest, trial, scourging, and crucifixion, they would not lose faith. Sad times may come, but as a child of God, you will always have the last laugh.
Today, our Gospel passage presents us with the story of a woman who met Jesus at a really bad time in her life. This was a woman who had had several broken relationships with different men. Due to her poor reputation in the community, she relegated herself to living in the shadows – hiding from people and coming out only when she knew she wouldn’t meet anyone.
Like this woman, there are times we become enveloped with shame and guilt over our past that we feel like hiding from everyone. Jesus’ attitude to this woman clearly shows that God loves us not because we are sinless but despite our sinfulness. As St. Paul explains in today’s second reading, the proof of God’s love for us is that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. (Cf. Romans 5:8). No matter what your past has been, today is the day you meet Jesus at the well.
You may have suffered from several heartbreaks, cheated on, lied to, abused or insulted. You may have done things that you are not proud of. All these happened because, like the Israelites in the desert, you were “tormented by thirst” – you were searching for love in the wrong place, searching for happiness in a world of fleeting pleasures, searching for satisfaction in created things forgetting that only God can satisfy the deepest yearnings of your heart. St. Augustine would say, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Let us consider some lessons for today:
1. Anyone who Drinks this Water will Thirst Again – This World is Vanity
In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus made a clear distinction between the water she had come to draw and the water Jesus was offering her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14). Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, all is vanity. What do we really gain if we amass the whole world and yet, we lack Jesus?
The richer you become, the more your craving increases; no matter how much you have, it is never enough. Do not be so poor that the only thing you have is money. As John admonishes us: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away.” (1 John 2:15-17).
Remember the penny catechism teaches: “Why did God make you? To know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him in this life and forever in the next.” Everything else is just vanity; a gathering of mere breath; it is there today and tomorrow it is useless. When Satan showed him all the riches of the world and promised to give them to him in exchange for a bow, Jesus knew that what he was seeing was mere breath.
This world is not our own; we brought nothing and we shall return with nothing. There is nothing in this world that lasts, nothing that is capable of satisfying us, nothing worth comparing to the living water of salvation that Jesus brings. The disciples had gone out to buy food. They asked Jesus to eat but he said: “I have food which you do not know about.” No wonder Jesus said to the devil, man shall not survive by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Ordinary food cannot sustain you, the more you eat it, the more you pass it out and become hungry again. Feed your soul; nourish your spiritual life and you will find inner satisfaction.
2. Life Without God Is Nothing but Self-Torment
On their way to the Promised Land, the children of Israel, despite having witnessed the wonders of God in the land of Egypt, despite seeing how the sea divided for them to walk through it as on the dry ground, despite seeing how those who pursued them were destroyed in the sea, despite being fed by manna and quails in the desert, the people turned towards Moses and said: “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”
One clear sign that you are not close to God is when you catch yourself complaining at every slight instance. Of course, when you take God out of the picture, nothing else makes sense. The children of Israel complained bitterly because they forgot that it was God leading them, they assumed it was Moses and instead of calling on God through prayer, they complained against Moses.
By making water flow from the Rock, God was not only giving them water to quench their thirst, but God was also seeking to revive their faith; to show that He is a God for whom nothing is impossible. No matter what you face in life, learn to submit everything to God and trust that He is more than capable of providing for you. Before telling anyone your problems, make you have spoken to God and trust that God can handle it. A prayerless Christian is not only powerless, but he is also a frustrated person. Life without God is nothing but torment.
3. Worship God in Spirit and Truth
It is not enough to boast about being baptized and confirmed. We should avoid treating the sacraments like certificates we receive in school. To be baptized and confirmed does not automatically qualify you for heaven. In his conversation with the woman at the well, we hear Jesus say: “The hour is coming, and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24).
Dear friends, on the last day, we shall all be judged not by the church we attended but by the way we worshipped God. As Jesus warns: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:21-23). We may deceive everyone but we can never deceive God. Repent today and come out of the darkness.
4. No One Drinks Living Water and Keeps It to Himself
To taste Christ is to spread Christ. If you ever find yourself lacking words to say about Jesus, it is a clear sign that you don’t know Jesus, and that you are yet to encounter Him. There is no way you would truly encounter Jesus and refuse to tell people about Him. The same woman who was hiding from the people went into the village and began to announce to everyone about Jesus.
This woman who was ashamed of our past before ran to the village talking freely about her former life and how Jesus has transformed her. You know you have truly repented when you are able to talk about your shameful past freely with others. To evangelize is to bring Christ to people; to tell them your story; how Christ has changed you. John tells us that “many Samaritans believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.”
After she had told her story, she allowed the people to encounter Christ for themselves so much so that they now said to her: “It is no longer because of your words we believe, for we have heard ourselves and we know that He is the Saviour of the world.”
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, give me living water that I may not thirst again. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (3rd Sunday of Lent, Bible Study: Exodus 17:3-7, Ps. 95:1-2,6-9, Romans 5:1-2,5-8, John 4:5-42).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu