Homily for the third Sunday of Lent

Year A  -  John 4:5...42


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus came to a city of Samar'ia, called Sy'char, 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 Samar'ia 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 Samar'ia?" 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."

The gospel reading for today, the third Sunday of Lent, is one of the most important chapters of Saint Johnís Gospel. It tells us of a talk Jesus had with a woman from Samaria: "the Samaritan woman." Since this gospel is very long, and rich in images and details, we will limit ourselves to looking at verses 5 to 15 of chapter 4 of Saint John.

"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.'"

Jesus comes to Sychar, and he is tired! It is around noon, and naturally, he is thirsty. Didn't he think at that moment, in the Spirit of Love who unites him to his Father, of that other midday when he would be more than tired, already half-dead, nailed on the Cross of Calvary? For Jesus was crucified around midday (the sixth hour of the day - cf. Luke 23:44) And it is precisely at that moment that Jesus, who was very thirsty, asked for a drink: "After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), 'I thirst.'" (Jn. 19:28) And there Jesus thought of the Psalm 69 (68), verse 21 (22), where it is written: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

"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.""

Jesus was at that moment near the piece of land that Jacob gave to Joseph, his son, the very same Joseph who was sold by his brothers for a few silver coins, after having been thrown into an empty cistern (cf. Gn. 37)! How could Jesus be unaware of this, he who knows all things, he who knows that soon one of his own disciples would sell him for thirty pieces of silver, and that all were going to disown him? Yes, Jesus knows this. But above all he knows that it is in this way, by passing through the trial of his Passion, that he will give to the whole world, to every individual man and woman, living water, a spring of water welling up until eternal life!

"So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe." (John 19:32-35)

The soul of Jesus has hardly entered into the full vision of God, and already Jesus is giving of that water which will pour forth in eternal life! And this water is truly a sign of eternal life! For Jesus wanted to resurrect bearing the marks of his Passion, those of the nails in his hands and feet. But he also wanted the mark which hadn't caused him any suffering, since he had already entered into the full vision of God, the mark of his transfixed side, to be visible for all eternity! From this mysterious wound, that in which Thomas placed his hand - Thomas, the disciple who seems to have abandoned his Master more than the others - pours forth forever the water of divine grace!

"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.""

Jesus succeeded in making the Samaritan woman understand a little of the Mystery which he came to reveal to us on earth: the eternal Life of his celestial Father! A short time after this talk with the Samaritan woman, Jesus, still within the context of his future Passion, spoke once more of eternal life, and he received the same enthusiastic reaction for the gift he had come to bring them: "Jesus then said, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.' They said to him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.'" (John 6:32-34)

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.'" (John 6:35) Let us ask Mary, during this eucharistic celebration, to help us to believe in her Son Jesus, and in the eternal Life which he came to give us!