Scripture: Lectionary # 28. Exodus 17:3-7. Psalm 95:1-2.6-7. 8-9. Romans
5:1-2.5-8. John 4:5-42
We are now in the heart of Lent. John's Gospel will be read in order to
prepare the catechumens for their Baptism and for their deepening within
their faith through careful learning, praying,and studying. The readings
do illuminate all of us who ponder them over in the light of the Great
theme of Lent: the Paschal Mysteries of Christ's last days of life,
sufferings, death on the Cross, resurrection, and glorification of him as
The symbolism in the readings for this Sunday do help us to understand our
Baptism better and how to continue living it out each day by dying and
rising with Christ in our sufferings and in our services to others and to
The Scripture from Exodus speaks about the waters at Meribah and Massah in
the desert near Mount Horeb (same as Mount Sinai). Moses strikes the rock
and waters flow for the People of God. Paul tells us later in one of his
Epistles that the rock is Christ. Our readings today confirm that symbol
of water as referring to Christ, the Messiah and the Lord of salvation.
Paul's lesson for today contains reference to the threefold gifts that
relate us directly to God through our Baptism: the grace of faith, the
hope that it has engendered, and the love that is effective in our
relationship with God and with one another; hence, they are called the
theological virtues and they related us directly to God. We develop them
through our religious practices and our prayers.
The title "woman" is important to John. And it is first used at Cana where
the mother of Jesus, Mary, is present with her son. The text for today is
the second narrative that has the word or title woman and it is used in
reference to the Samaritan woman whose name we do not know but who
symbolizes what happens to her by her cooperation and dialogue with Christ
which is splendidly given to us in chapter four of the Fourth Gospel.
John's Gospel is the most theological gospel. It is a Gospel of
illumination for it shows us an image of Christ as the Light, the Life, and
the Way (John 14:6). The Prologue has never been surpassed in what it
tells us about the Word of God and Jesus become flesh in the greatest of
Incarnational texts, John 1:14. We realize that the stories given us so
creatively and lively help those being prepared for their entrance into the
Church through Baptism. The narrative centers around the well of Jacob
which still exists today and is very deep just as the woman says.
Moreover, this becomes the place where the Samaritan woman comes to believe
that salvation comes from the Jews and in a most personal way for her
through Jesus the Jew. She "hangs in them" and dialogues with Jesus just
as Mary did with the Angel Gabriel. Good things result when there is true
and open dialogue. Our prayer with Jesus should be an open dialogue with
him and then we would see that we make progress in those three virtues
given to us in our Baptism. Jesus is the new source for life giving waters
that far surpasses the old well of Jacob. The woman believes and thus
leaves his jar for carrying water there and goes on to bring the
life-giving water that is Jesus to her own people in the nearby village.
They believe not only because of her but also because they came and found
Jesus. They even got him to stary two days with them--hospitality wins the
presence of the Lord.
We can put all of these readings together by praying Psalm 95, the Great
Invitatory Psalm used by most who pray the liturgy of the hours. It is a
perfect morning prayer that contains much of the first reading within its
historical context. The reasons for praising God are that God is supreme
over the heights of creation and over the depths of the world. God has
made a covenant with us. He is our God and we are his people. The
psalmist uses the image of a shepherd who provides for the sheep of his
pasture and cares for them. Amen.
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