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Gospel reflection

March 12, 2023: Third Sunday of Lent

Gospel: John 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have giving you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar, went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbit, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here.’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.’”

Reflection

Every three years, the church invites the proclamation of this Sunday’s and the following two Sundays’ readings from the Gospel of John. Parishes with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) often choose to use these gospels yearly. Why is such the case? In today’s reading, the emphasis is on water that leads to eternal life; we may lose that theme in what becomes a convoluted and lengthy story. Those in the RCIA are nearing the day when they will be baptized and enter fully into Life in Christ. Jesus provides living water that quenches spiritual thirst once and for all. Jesus the prophet nudges his way into the woman’s life story, and draws her to himself (much like effective catechesis also does in leading individuals to the waters of baptism). In the evolving relationship between the two, the woman comes to believe in him and goes home to share her good news. She has faith in Jesus; she can’t help but tell others.

Action

As the catechumens begin their final journey to the water of baptism, they participate in what are called Scrutinies. On the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, those to be fully initiated into the church during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night enter into an intensified time of prayer. The Scrutinies (rituals) are intended to confirm the catechumens in their commitment as they complete their journey to baptism, confirmation and communion. They are invited to deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all. The members of the church are invited to renew their own baptismal commitment as they pray with the catechumens who are now called the Elect. Some of the prayers taken from the ritual for this third Sunday of Lent are shared below:

Let us pray for those soon to be baptized and for ourselves as we renew our commitment to Christ.

That the Elect may ponder the word of God in their hearts and savor its meaning more fully day by day, we pray …

That we ourselves in preparation for the Easter feast may seek a change of heart, give ourselves to prayer and persevere in our good works, we pray …

That throughout the whole world whatever is weak may be strengthened, whatever is broken restored, whatever is lost found, and what I found redeemed, we pray …

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Sister Mary Beth Klingel

Sister Mary Beth is currently ministering as the Guest Services Coordinator in Woodhaven, a Retreat and Guest House. In addition to many liturgical involvements, she also is a volunteer visitor in Providence Health Care. Previously she served for 10 years on the SP leadership team general officer on the leadership team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She has previously served as an elementary school teacher, pastoral minister and director of novices.

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1 Comment

  1. S. Denise Wilkinson on March 12, 2023 at 9:04 am

    MB, Given our times, I find the last prayer most compelling. I hope to carry this prayer in my heart.

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