Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE OUR FAITH FOR BAPTISM WITH THE LIVING WATER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE
- Exodus 17:3-7
- Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R. v. 8
- Romans 5:1-2. 5-8.
- John 4: 5-42
Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, and the Church has chosen the readings of today, to tell us that Lent is a time when we prepare our faith for Baptism, with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love, for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!
To begin with, the first reading from the book of Exodus tells us that the people of Israel had no faith. They “grumbled” (“Meribah”) against God and they put God to the “test” (“Massah”)! They were looking for material and earthly water that cannot quench their spiritual thirst! They were not looking for the spiritual and living water that can quench their spiritual thirst!
The last sentence of the first reading tells it all, “Is the Lord with us, or not?” They stop short of saying, ‘Does God exits or not?’ They had no faith!
But more importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God, and to praise and worship Him, because he is our Creator and our Shepherd and we are his creatures and his sheep!
The 3rd stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken, tells us, ‘Today listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, at Massah when they put me to the test though they saw my work!’
The 1st and 2nd stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Creator and Shepherd!
And most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! What distinguished her from the Jews was not that she was more holy, but that she had faith in Jesus Christ!
The Samaritan woman was not more holy than the Jews, the chosen people of God! On the contrary, she was a woman, a Samaritan and she had 5 husbands! In their morning prayer, the Jews thank God that they are not gentiles, slaves and women! A Samaritan is a “half-Jew” and he is despised by a Jew! In the 8th century BC, the Jews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were deported to Babylonia, and the gentiles and pagans from Babylonia were imported into Israel. They intermarried with the Jews and their descendents were the Samaritans! The Samaritans worshiped the God of the Jews, but they also worshiped the false gods that they brought in from Babylonia! The 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman may symbolize the Bible of the Samaritan, that is, the first 5 books of the Bible, it may also symbolize the 5 groups of gentiles imported from Babylonia into Israel, but historically, it refers to the 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman!
The gospel also tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman was dynamic and not static! The gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grows and increases! At first she recognized Jesus to be a Jew, then a prophet, then the Messiah, and finally together with the other Samaritans she confessed that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world!
More than that, the Samaritan woman was also the first missionary and apostle of Saint John’s gospel! She was also the first woman evangelizer (proclaimer of the Good News) of Saint John’s gospel!
The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us that we have to have faith in Jesus Christ, and that our faith have to grow every year, especially at Lent and Easter time, and that like the Samaritan woman we have to share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News!
Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading of today from the letter to the Romans to tell us that in faith we are baptized with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!
For those of us who have already been baptized, we have to renew our baptismal faith and we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and we will once again die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!
During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, in order to renew our faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning, we may renew our “baptismal profession of faith”, and so that we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.