Homily for March 15

Woman at the Well by Diane Gardner

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

Over 2,000 years ago, a thirsty Jewish man, who was a preacher,
passed through a small town where he met a Samaritan woman
who had trouble keeping a husband.
And my job this morning is to help us see how their encounter
has anything at all to do with your life and mine today.

Perhaps if St. John had known how famous this woman would become
he might have done her (and us) the favor giving us her name:
but, he didn’t.
So, rather than just refer to her as “the woman,”
let’s give her a name - we’ll call her “Rachel.”

Jesus was thirsty and Rachel needed water for her kitchen
and so it happened that they ran into each other at the town’s well.
Today, they might have bumped into each other at Star Market
- only to find that all the bottled water
had been snatched up by hoarders
preparing to be quarantined by the corona virus.

When and where Rachel met Jesus is significant.
They didn’t meet on the Sabbath
and they didn’t meet in a temple or synagogue, or on a holy mountain.
Rather, they met at the town well, in the middle of an ordinary day,
as Rachel was going about her daily household chores.
She had come to the well at midday because she knew
the heat of the noonday sun would keep others at home
and she’d be spared the whispers and dirty looks
of those who held her in contempt.

Rachel hadn’t come to the well to pray, much less to meet the Messiah!
She was just getting water for her family and for herself.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Jesus took Rachel by surprise.
And that leads me to wonder,
to wonder how many times this past week
did Jesus approach you and me?

How many times did he show up in our every day lives
and ask us for something, as he asked Rachel for a drink of water?
How many times did he fall in step by our side,
looking to spend some time with us, to talk to us, to listen to us?
How many times in the past week did Jesus come along,
unannounced, looking for a way to change our hearts,
to turn our lives around?

But before next weekend,  Jesus will have 167 more hours
to seek us out and meet us
in the middle of our ordinary days,
in the midst of our ordinary lives and work.

We know this gospel as the story of The Woman at the Well.
What about the story of
The Teacher in the Classroom?
The Woman at the Next Desk?
The Mom in the Living Room?
The Plumber Under the Sink?
The Nurse in the ER?
The Student in Cafeteria?
The Commuter on the Train?
The Cashier at the Checkout?
The Guy in Your Office?
The Peron Whomever, Wherever, Whenever?

In the gospel here, it quickly becomes apparent
that Rachel has some personal history to conceal
and it’s equally evident that Jesus knows her story.
It seems Rachel has been looking for love in all the wrong places
-- and she hasn’t found it yet.
She’s made some mistakes along the way:  mistakes she’d rather hide.
What Jesus does is to help her face  up to her own truth, the whole of it,
and in response she meets the truth of who Jesus is in her life.

Jesus meets Rachel in the middle of her day,
in the context of her work-a-day world,
in the nitty-gritty truth of her life’s circumstances.
And that’s just how Jesus will meet you and me
in the 167 hours between now next Sunday.

Jesus knew everything that Rachel had ever done --
even what she tried to hide from him
and still he sought her out
--to offer her the living waters of his mercy.

And Jesus knows everything that you and I have ever done
and everything we’ve failed to do
and he knows what we try to hide from him, and from ourselves
and yet still he seeks us out and offers us
the living waters of his love, his presence and his pardon.

We don’t really need to go out and look for Jesus.
What we need to do is open our eyes and recognize him
as he comes looking for us - and finding us, 24-7, 168 hours a week.

Or as one writer has put it:
“As acute... as our thirst for God might be,
as exhausting... as our journeys to God might seem,
the yearning, the thirst... that God has for us
and the journey God makes into our hearts
surpass it all -- infinitely.  Drink it in! “     (John Kavanagh, SJ)

Drink in the presence, the love, the mercy God pours out for us!

In the week just past, you and I, all of us, bumped into Jesus
who was making it his business to bump into us -
at home, at work, at school, in the neighborhood,
in our town, in our parish
– and in all the hidden corners of our hearts’ stories.

Did I see him in all those places?  Did you?
Did we recognize him?
Were there things about me I tried to hide from him?
hide from him who knows me better than I know myself?
Or did I ask for and accept the gift of his living water,
to wash me in his mercy and slake my heart’s deepest thirst?

We gather on the Lord’s Day to learn how to recognize
the voice and word of Jesus in the scriptures
and in our day-to-day ordinary lives,
and in the unusual and extra-ordinary days
in which we presently find ourselves facing a menacing virus.

We gather to be strengthened by his word
that when he comes to meet us
in the middle of our week and work,
and in the midst of all our circumstances and relationships,
we’ll recognize him there, too
and welcome him who welcomes us
to drink deeply of the living water he offers.

We come here, like Rachel, to worship in spirit in truth,
because, like her, we have all met Jesus
who can tell us everything we’ve ever done
-- and who seeks us out nonetheless,
and forgives and loves us still.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!