Water in the desert

Homily for March 26, III Sunday of Lent, cycle A

Click here for the podcast version of this homily.

There is so much to talk about in today’s readings, I hardly know where to start. Given the length of the Gospel reading today, I think you might want me to start near the end – near the end of the homily, that is. I will try to be concise.

The first reading recounts how the people of Israel wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt started to doubt God’s Providence, despite His promises to them and his mighty works in the past, because they were having a hard time finding water. God works a miracle through Moses, who brings forth water, not from a well, but from a rock – as if to show the people that they should have much more faith in God’s ability to provide for them. The psalm encourages us not to follow their example, but rather to trust in God, thanking Him for His past favors and following His teachings and laws as sheep obey a shepherd.

In the Gospel, the theme of water and thirst plays out again, in a spiritual way. The Samaritan woman was lost in a spiritual desert of ignorance and sin. Jesus uses the natural water of the well as a bridge to speak to her of the life-giving spiritual refreshment of the Holy Spirit. Material water from a well can only help support our biological life, which will eventually end. The Holy Spirit, which is God’s love “poured out into our hearts” through the waters of Baptism, gives us eternal life and thus hope which “does not disappoint”, as St Paul describes in the second reading.

Often the world we live in feels like a spiritual desert. Every day, we hear news of all kinds of immorality, violence and death. The material occupations of the world often distract us from God and keep us from prayer. All too easily, God’s place in our lives is restricted to Sunday Mass and a prayer or two in between. Jesus longs for us to let Him fill our lives! Pope Benedict XVI explains that, when Jesus says to the woman, “Give me a drink,” “it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift […] of the Holy Spirit […] . Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it ‘finds rest in God’, as per the famous words of St Augustine.” We receive that gift through the sacraments and through listening to the Holy Spirit every day, making God’s presence an important part of our daily lives.

The Samaritan woman’s reaction to receiving this gift is very instructive: she goes out to share it with others. Because of her, many of the people in the town come to believe in Jesus. May God help us to nourish our souls with His water of life every day, and to bring others to Him by our words and example.


About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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