Homily for March 19

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Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

So, over 2,000 years ago, a thirsty Jewish man who was a preacher,
encountered a Samaritan woman who couldn’t keep a husband
and my job is to help us see how this ancient story
has anything at all to do with our lives, yours and mine.
Let’s take a look at how this woman
 (and let’s give her a name - we’ll call her Rachel)
let’s see how Rachel responds to Jesus.

• Jesus asks her for a drink of water and her first response is:
 “So, you want something from me?”
There are times in the lives of us all when we respond just that way
when the Lord is asking something of you and me.
We’re usually quicker to call on God to give us something
and slower to return the favor
when he comes knocking on our door.
What the Lord asks of us is usually pretty simple, even if not always easy.
The Lord asks for our attention, he asks for some of our time,
he asks for the truth, he asks for a place in our hearts
where he might be at home;
and he asks for the use of our arms and hands
to reach out to those in need.
Just as Jesus was thirsty for a drink of water at Jacob’s well,
he’s still thirsty - but now he thirsts for us,
he thirsts for you and he thirsts for me.

• When Jesus suggests that he might have water to give to Rachel,
her response comes quickly:
 “Dude, you don’t even have a bucket to draw from the well!
How are you going to give me something to drink?”
Sometimes we’re just like Rachel here, not expecting anything from Jesus.
Too often, Jesus is the last one we turn to:
maybe because we think he doesn’t understand us;
maybe because we just never pray;
or maybe because we think we can take care of ourselves,
that we don’t really need help.
Most folks won’t admit to thinking they don’t need the Lord’s help
even if that’s exactly how they live their lives.
And sometimes I might think that even if Jesus came up with a bucket,
it wouldn’t be big enough to take care of all my worries and troubles.

• But then Jesus makes Rachel an offer she can’t refuse.
He offers her living water, a drink of which, he says,
will satisfy her thirst forever.
Now that gets her attention!
If she gets a swig of this living water she’ll never have to come again,
in the heat of noon day sun, to draw water from the well
and carry it home in a jar on her shoulders.
And again, we’re often just like Rachel.

We love what God promises, we want what God promises -
but we’re not so keen on what God’s promises ask of us.
We want the gain - without the pain.

• And it’s just at this point when Jesus jumps smack-dab
into the middle of Rachel’s life
asking her to go home and get her husband
and bring him back with her to the well.
Rachel then does something we all do:
she tries to hide something from Jesus:  
she tells him she has no husband -
when, indeed, she’s had FIVE husbands
and she’s not married to the guy she’s with now.
Like Rachel, we all try to hide things from Jesus,
especially things that embarrass us, shame us,
the things we’re least proud of
the things we hide from others - and even try to hide from ourselves.

But this is the turning point in the story - something happens to Rachel.
She sees that Jesus knows everything about her,
even what she tried to hide from him
AND she sees that he doesn’t condemn her, doesn’t leave her,
doesn’t send her away.
He stays right there by her side and in that she finds peace,
peace in knowing that someone who knows everything she’s done
accepts her nonetheless and loves her nonetheless.
And such acceptance, such love,
is what Rachel is really thirsting for.

• And then, finally, Rachel does something that many of us are slow to do,
reticent to do, afraid to do:
she goes home and tells other people that she has met Jesus.

Rachel’s story reminds us of what Lent is all about.

- Lent is a time to think not so much about what we want from Jesus
but more about what Jesus asks of us.

- Lent is a time to remember that Jesus’ promises are freely given
but at the same time, make demands on us.
It’s not always easy to follow Jesus - it costs us to do so.  No pain, no gain.

- Lent is a time to be honest with Jesus, and with others -
and with ourselves.
It’s a time to remember that lies hold us back
and only the truth will make us free.

- Lent is a time to remember that no matter what we’ve done,
Jesus loves us and stands ready to forgive us.

- And finally, Lent is a time to share our faith with others,
a time to find ways to let others know that Jesus is part of our lives.

Jesus met Rachel at Jacob’s well.  He meets you and me in many places.
And certainly he meets us here at the altar
where he who knows everything we’ve ever done or failed to do
still welcomes us to sit as his table
so that he can nourish us with his Body and Blood,
given once, for all, on the Cross
and give again and again, even this day,
in the sacrament we’re about to receive.

If you hunger and thirst
for such love and acceptance,
come to the Lord's table
and be filled with his promise,
his peace and his life.


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