Homily for the third Sunday of Lent - Year A - Jn. 4:5...42


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.


"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.' For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, 'How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?' Jesus said to her, 'Every one 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.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.' "





Homily:


"Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.' For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."


Jesus is on the road: he had left Judaea and is returning to Galilee. We have already spoken of this a few weeks ago, when we were celebrating the third Sunday of ordinary time. But today, on the third Sunday of Lent, we are interested in a stop that Jesus made in the land of Samaria, an obligatory way of passage between Judaea and Galilee if one does not wish to make a large detour...


So Jesus arrives at Sychar and stops at Jacob's well, located not far from the town. It is midday, and it is hot. Jesus is thirsty... Happily, a woman arrives at the well to draw water from it! I say: "Happily"; it would be better to say: "Providentially". For Jesus knows all: before he even arrived at Sychar, he already knew that this woman would come to Jacob's well...


Jesus knows all! Jesus already knows this woman. However, this woman does not know him. Not only that, but as she is a Samaritan and Jesus is a Jew, this woman has no interest in knowing who this man is: Jews and Samaritans do not speak to each other... But Jesus nevertheless addresses this woman, and he asks her for a drink... What a surprise it was for the Samaritan woman!


Are we not a little like this woman of Samaria? Are we not usually immersed in our daily activities, which are often quite ordinary? Are we not thus led to keep looking down our well, at the bottom of which lie our perishable treasures like money, honors and glory, while we hardly ever turn our gaze towards Heaven where Jesus awaits us?


"The Samaritan woman said to him, 'How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink," you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.' "


So, contrary to all expectations, Jesus addresses himself to the Samaritan woman. But Jesus does not restrict himself to merely speaking to her: he also wants her to give him something to drink! So here God, who knows all and who can do anything, needs one of his creatures to help him! This is something quite surprising! And yet... Is this not the vocation of every Christian, every man and woman whom God calls to his service?


Does God actually need something? Yes, Jesus, the man in whom God is incarnated, needs water, for he is thirsty. But Jesus, who is God, can do anything: he could very easily get water through his divine Omnipotence. Let us recall the first temptation of Jesus: the devil tempted him to use his divine Power to change stones into bread...


In fact, Jesus does not want to use his divine Power, for he absolutely wants to be similar to us! Jesus wants to be close to us, to be like us, similar to us. And it is as a man that he asks the Samaritan woman for a drink. Thus, in Jesus, God lowers himself to our level in order that we, his creatures, might be able to help him...


But it doesn't end there. If God receives any help whatsoever, his Love is so great that he cannot fail to give himself in return! This is what Jesus told us in the following words: "Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Mt. 10:42)


It is for this reason that Jesus answers the Samaritan woman by saying: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." For once we have encountered God in our daily life and have learned to recognize him, no longer can we believe that we are capable of giving anything to God...


He who knows God no longer has anything of his own: everything belongs to God, he has given him everything once and for all, and this total gift of himself to God has obtained for him in return this knowledge of God! The true servant of God is he who knows God: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Lk. 17:10)


"The woman said to him, 'Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?' Jesus said to her, 'Every one 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.' The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.' "


Everything that took place at Jacob's well nearly two thousand years ago can still take place today. For Jesus said: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." (Jn. 6:35) Today, during this Sunday Eucharist, we can still stop at Jacob's well, with Jesus...


In order that our stop might be fruitful, let us ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, for the grace of a profound faith, a faith so profound that it will seek out all the water at the bottom of the well of our soul in order to give it to God in Jesus! Then, thanks to this faith, our hope in the eternal Life will be unshakeable, and our love for God will be as strong as death (cf. Cant. 8:6)!



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