March 15: Third Sunday of Lent. Readings: 1. Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm: 95; 2. Romans 5:1-2,5-8; Gospel: John 4:5-42
There is a distinctive spiritual message to be taken from today’s three biblical authors. And it reveals itself to us through the desire to have our bodily and spiritual thirsts satisfied.
The Exodus details Israel’s predicament in the wilderness. Without water there, they and their children and livestock are destined to die from thirst. So, through Moses, their intercessor with God, a miracle saves them all. This is a further proof that the God of Israel possesses not only incredible power, but is also a compassionate being whose goodness is never exhausted. That is really most evident despite Israel’s discontent and habitual waywardness.
Paul’s thinking in Romans today revolves around faith, hope and love. Because human life had been greatly weakened by sin, there was a serious need for divine intervention to remedy that situation and so restore humanity to a right or just state of existence. Enlightened by faith and living in hope, we humans can recognise that perfect form of love made visible in Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of all sinners. Again, this is something only made possible by the hand of God.
Today’s Gospel exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is a delightful piece of dialogue that well illustrates the difference between natural and spiritual needs. What Jesus offers this woman – with her background – is far more than anything she might have ever expected. His living water changes her life, taking her in quite a different direction. Such is her introduction to this new life that she immediately becomes the messenger who leads many others to believe in Jesus and his offer of eternal life.
This special set of biblical readings is a suitable means for all of us to enter into reflection and judge how we might grow spiritually during these weeks of Lent.