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Bulletin: March 15, 2020

Third Sunday of Lent

We hear today of God’s unrelenting pursuit of us. Our readings tell stories of God’s intense desire to share the divine life with us. From Exodus, we see how God shows endless persistence and compassion, even to those who grumble against God, or seem to have forgotten God. From the Gospel of John, we hear of how Jesus, in his extended conversation with the Samaritan woman, gives her dignity, names uncomfortable truths, and gradually leads her into a new path of faith. We can have confidence that as we bring our own confusions, fears, and failings to God, we may receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. God always persists and continually finds new ways to invite people into unity with God. As Paul describes in Romans, in the cross we see how God will go to any length to demonstrate the depth and breadth of divine love.


The story of the Israelites’ grumbling and threatened revolt, and of God’s response in our reading from Exodus today, grapples with difficulties of the life of faith. Those who place their lives in the hands of God, as Israel did by following Moses into the desert, may soon face troubling and fearful moments. Sometimes we lose what we think we need, or somehow find it difficult to get what we really need. In our busy lives, it’s easy to gradually forget God’s presence and action among us.

Moses’ prayer to God and God’s compassionate response of providing water resolve the situation. Perhaps it was Moses’ admirable honesty in his dialogue with God that made a difference. Moses “cried out to the Lord” and he didn’t know how God might respond. Honestly expressing our needs in prayer is essential to the life of faith. Waiting in openness to God’s response is equally important.


The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, like the passage from Exodus, speaks of tired and thirsty people. Jesus is tired and thirsty from his journey. The Samaritan woman is not only tired of the difficult chore of obtaining water, but is thirsty for something more. Jesus presents himself as living water for her, able to satisfy a deeper thirst in her heart. Through his patience and compassion, he opens a new wellspring of God’s sustenance for her.

How might we, like Jesus, be water for others in our thirsty world? We can take some cues from Jesus here. Jesus crossed boundaries of gender, ethnicity, and religious division. Jesus began in vulnerability, in need of hospitality from a stranger. His was a non-threatening, compassionate presence. Jesus did not begin by speaking about himself or God, but entered into ordinary conversation with her. He first attended to her practical realities and concerns, which led to deeper dialogue. Perhaps we have opportunities to follow Jesus’ example.

Today’s Readings: Ex 17:3–7; Ps 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–9; Rom 5:1–2, 5–8; Jn 4:5–42 [5­–15, 19b–26, 39a, 40–42]

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