Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year A
Theme: “Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13-14)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday March 15 2020
It’s now mid-Lent and, as is often our experience in the northeast at this time of year, cabin fever tends to set us on edge. While we yearn for bloom, birdsong and the sound of rushing waters marking swift snow melt, we grit our teeth and snarl at one another. And while we wait, Jesus and a woman meet at a well and invite us all back into the flowing abundance of life.
As they consider the water provided by the well to which they’ve come, Jesus says to the woman, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) I imagine the woman, confused by his words, looks down into the well and wonders anew at its freshness. Is there something wrong with this water that I’ve been drinking for so long, she wonders? Is this well stagnant? Jesus, though, just smiles at her, offering better water, living water, though she can see no other well nearby. But she trusts his words. Please give me this water, she begs. And in her request, I hear echoes of Greg’s voice reverberating with his own request for spiritual refreshment.
“Have you got a word for me today?” Greg asks. A seasoned physician I regularly encountered at the hospital, I was far more comfortable discussing ethics and spirituality with him, but invariably came the request, as earnest as was the woman’s at the well. “Have you got a word for me today?” And I stood dumb before him, knowing that he was seeking the living water that God had promised day by day to nourish him in his ministry to patients and families. Greg wanted the freshness of life that only God can give, and he was asking me to give it to him, preferably in just a word or two.
The first few times he asked me, I laughed it off, thinking surely he was just humoring me. But then I paid more attention to his eyes, and I saw the thirst, and I knew he wasn’t joking. I didn’t have what Greg wanted—but I knew who did. Greg drove me to prayer, asking God to quench his thirst. And indeed, if I was to be the human sluice by which God’s living water should come to him, please God, make me worthy.
After a while I came around. While our discussions of ethics and spirituality continued, his requests for living water—”Have you got a word for me today?”—no longer caused me anxiety. In fact, I did offer him a word, and more often than not, it was something I more needed to hear than perhaps did Greg.
One day when he stopped me in a hospital corridor and asked me, I put a hand on his shoulder, looked deep into his transfixed eyes and said simply, “Be not afraid for I, the Lord, am with you.” Then walking away, I trusted that God would do the rest, would be Greg’s living water as he offered his heart, hands and mind to God’s good use among the sick.