3rd Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7   Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 John4:5-42

Lent picture W3At midday the Samaritan Village of Sychar was deserted!  The heat was intense and Jesus came there to rest from his long journey and to find something to quench his physical thirst.  The uncrowded space was silent too; the sort of place we might sometimes seek in order to rest, to think, to pray. The Samaritan woman came here in order to avoid people and to draw water.  She didn’t fully understand her need to avoid people.  She could hardly accept herself for who she was.  Her life had been chaotic, her relationships had been failures.  She was unable to be loyal.  Deep down, she was seeking something but didn’t know what. The author Dr Erich Fromm in his book, The Art of Loving (1970) asserts that the deepest need of the human being is to overcome one’s separateness, to be liberated from the prison of aloneness. The woman’s shock at not being alone was made greater when she was addressed by a man and further compounded by the fact that he was a Jew – He was breaking the dividing barrier that was customary between Jews and Samaritans. But already she allows herself to respond and even engage in a bit of innocent banter. What the woman does, in fact, is similar to what we are prompted to do during Lent; to put aside some of the things that hold us back from listening to what the Lord is saying to us and from listening to ourselves.

When Jesus reveals to her that He knows all about her secret life she quickly recognises the Truth …. And it is the Truth that sets her free.  The freedom that she now has enables her to recognise Jesus for who He is.  He is a prophet who lifts her worship from the old traditions and customs and leads people to Worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth. The water that the Samaritan woman requests “will turn into a spring inside her welling up to eternal life.”  

During these Sundays of Lent our liturgies prepare us for the renewal of our Baptismal promises around the Paschal Candle at Easter. The Scriptures invite us to explore the richness of baptism, to recognise the Messiah who has come among us and turn us towards an authentic worship of God.

The Samaritan woman who had come to the quiet centre of the village to draw from the well of Jacob received the water of eternal life and at once bore witness to what she had heard and received.  Her testimony was so powerful that her fellow Samaritans believed in the Lord and wanted him to stay with them.  

Our Lenten journey might well lead us to proclaim, like those newly enlightened Samaritans “Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.”

With the Psalmist we pray “O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’”  Repent and Believe!