3rd Sunday of Lent A
Fresh water, is a necessity of life, As near as the kitchen sink, cooler or fountain, available in different flavors and at various prices. We risk becoming jaded or taking for granted that which is a precious commodity.
Not all world’s people enjoy same advantages. Country of Bahrain, one of hottest regions on earth, located in Persian Gulf region, it’s population has no fresh water supply.
Springs are at the bottom of the sea. Divers with large goatskin bags plunge deep into the sea. When they reach springs, they release the stone which helped them descend, open their bags over the strong jet of water and ascend. They rise to the surface where they are given a fresh bag and dive, again and again.
The church in effort to renew a similar sensitivity and respect of water presents these readings for our reflection.
In both first reading and the gospel, water is presented as gift-necessary for life, a gift which God, source of life, can give.
Recall water in Wilderness, God sustained the people he called forth from slavery, blessed with freedom and graced with relationship (covenant) . Master and creator of universe who made the “waters above” and “waters below”. For Israel, water became a symbol of Yahweh’s constant care and attentive presence.
Chroniclers of Israel’s history interpreted an abundance of water(rain, spring, fountain) as a sign of God’s favor, and the lack of water (drought) or unwanted abundance (deluge) of water (rain, flood) as message of God’s displeasure.
Recognizing the divine mastery over the waters, Israel is appreciative of the life-sustaining water of God’s word and presence. In Exodus, people grumbled for water for physical thirst, while their spiritual hungers for God caused them to cry out “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”
The Hebrew literature underscore constancy of God’s care and concern despite the continuing ingratitude and contentiousness of Israel-exemplified by attitude of discontent and posture of rebellion against God and his representative, Moses.
Paul in letter to Romans, described the saving water of God’s love as gift poured out into the hearts of powerless but believing sinners.
The gratuitous gift of God manifested in Jesus’ saving death on the cross. Jesus has made just, put to right relationship with God, every sinner who approaches in faith. Paul describes the effects of justification in terms of peace, access, hope, love and life.
Jesus puts sinners in right relationship with God-this change in status is called justification.
In the gospel, Jesus’ exchange with the woman at the well awakened in her a thirst for the wholeness and integrity which she had lost and which he had come to satisfy. Her joy was contagious and instilled in others a similar thirst for the living water he offered. She is the first apostle to the gentiles who invited her neighbors to ‘Come and see.” Open to the truth of Jesus’ words, the woman asked him for the water he had offered. She also acknowledged him as prophet and professed faith in the coming messiah.
This living water we come to know and experience in baptism as living water, an enlightenment and new life. The power of God to quench our deepest thirst, to cure our blindness. We thirst for more than the world can offer—yet the power of sin within keeps us from being fully alive. Baptism is the ceremony but it points to the continual conversion necessary to make it our way of becoming fully alive. Do we thirst for the refreshment in the words of Jesus?
Like the divers of Bahrain, it takes work on our part to find and tap into the wellspring of God’s love in the person of Jesus, but the Lenten journey is worth the labor.