Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

What’s your favorite beverage:  Coca Cola®, milk, orange juice, Jarritos®, coffee, tea, beer, tequila?  They’re all very different, but they all have one thing in common:  water.

We can live without sugar, caffeine or alcohol.  We can survive for weeks without food.  But we will die if we go more than three days without water.  Water is essential to life, especially human life.  We need water to control our internal temperature, help our digestion, remove toxins and waste, and deliver oxygen to our bodies. Water is life.

The need for water drove the Samaritan woman to Jacob’s well when she encountered Jesus. It was the middle of the day and she was there alone.  This was unusual.  The other women of that town gathered there earlier in the day to avoid harassment and to socialize.  But she had a bad reputation.  When he spoke with her, Jesus broke several cultural, religious and social barriers:  a strange man talking with an unaccompanied woman; a Jew sitting down with a Samaritan; the Son of God talking religion with a woman whom many dismissed as a sinner.

Yet Jesus asked her for a drink.  It was his opportunity to talk with her about water—not the water that sat in Jacob’s well but something more precious.  The well was an important source of life and symbol of God’s faithfulness. But it was merely a cistern:  a hole in the ground that collected the water that came into it.  By offering her the water of life—the gift of spirit and truth—Jesus offered her something very different: “a spring of life welling up to eternal life.”

We receive that gift of life in faith through the waters of Baptism.  When we received that sacrament, God tapped an inner spring in each of us.  When that spring flows within us, we have the power to survive and even grow from some of the hardest times in our lives:  when we feel lost, when we are sick, when we are overcome by sin, and when we confront tragedy and death.  I recently found it when I was asked by our provincial ministers to leave Chicago, my province and this community and accept a new ministry.

When that spring flows within us, we also have the power to help others.  Through the grace and power of God, we can be like Moses and help them to find the waters of faith, hope and love that will help them to continue their journeys toward what God has promised us.  What is the condition of the spring within you?

The woman accepted her gift of water with such faith and fervor that she left her jar at the well.  She testified to the people of her town about Jesus.  They began to believe in him and invited him to stay with them.  After they had their own personal experiences of Jesus, their faith in him grew.  That’s the essence of evangelization.  We testify to others about Christ.  Through our testimony, they have their own experiences.  They come to believe in him and know that he is “truly the savior of the world.”  They become his disciples, too, and share their experiences with others.  That is how the faith has grown for 2000 years.

Because of the Corona Virus, the Archdiocese of Chicago recently ordered a variety of hygiene measures.  One of them was to empty the Holy Water fonts.  I miss dipping my fingers into the water and making the sign of the cross.  But maybe it’s an invitation for me to reach inward and tap the waters of the Spirit, knowing that I am already blessed:  In the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.