Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year A
Theme: COME TO THE LIVING WATER
By: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
Homily for Sunday March 15 2020
1st: Ex. 17:3-7
2nd: Rom 5:1-2; 5-8
3rd: John 4:5-42
Water is a basic necessity of life. 70% of human body is made up of water and about 71% of the earth is covered with water. When people are thirsty they get dehydrated, lose energy, get weak, get sick, and consequently they die. In fact, no water, no life. Thirst is a terrible thing. Everybody is thirsty in today’s readings: the Jews thirsted for water in the desert, the Samaritan woman thirsted for water at Jacob’s well, Jesus thirsted for the souls of Samaritans and of course mankind in the gospel. Lent can be described as a time of long trek in the desert. A dessert journey is a very challenging one due to scarcity of oasis, rivers and wells. We can be thirsty and spiritually dehydrated. Today, Jesus invites us to come to him the living water for strength and rehydration.
The Israelites were tormented by thirst in the desert. They wanted water by all means. They complained and murmured against God and Moses his servant to the point of trying to stone Moses. They lost sight of God’s marvelous deeds in Egypt; they forgot the promises of God for the future and even wanted to give up the dream of the promised land. Nothing was important to them any more than water. In their immense thirst for water at Massah and Meribah, they failed the test of trust in God. They were faced with a major challenge: are we to continue to trust this God of ours or are we to do it in our own way? This is familiar with all of us. We find ourselves sometimes asking ‘how long can we continue to wait on God?’ It is always the best to pray and not to murmur in times of difficult challenges of life. St. Paul encourages us in the second reading to persevere in spite of adversity.
Man in thirsty periods, times of temptation, sickness and acute deprivation, tend to abandon his faith in God to satisfy a momentary thirst, hunger and sensual desires. In Genesis 25:29-34, Easu sold his birth right to satisfy a momentary hunger. In Judges 15:4-22, Samson lost his powers while he was satisfying the desires of the flesh with the Philistine woman. Many of us like Easu and Samson have lost favour with God in a bid to satisfy a momentary pleasure or to avert a temporary pressure by hook or crook.
Today, in the encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus calls himself ‘the living water’, and anyone that drinks this water shall never thirst again. This takes us back to the prophecy of Ezekiel about the waters which flow from the temple. “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. “It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.” (Ezk 47:9).
That Jesus referred to himself as the living water that gives life implies not every water is pure, there is also dead water that does not give life like the Dead Sea which harbours no living thing because it is salty as a result of its stagnancy.
There is something more to human desires than the bodily wants. There is a fundamental thirst like a raging storm which material things cannot quench. In psalm 42:1-2, David writes: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” More so, in chapter 63:1, the same psalmist writes: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”. The thirst for God is the basic human desire. It is the thirst for righteousness and goodness. It comes from within and can only be filled from within. Man recognises the inner thirst but often fails to recognise the only solution for it. That is why he looks for satisfaction in materialism. No material thing can quench the thirst within. No wealth, no pleasure, no human position or honor can fill the deepest desires in the heart of man. St. Augustine, having known the futility of seeking life in dead-stagnant waters, rightly said: “The Lord created us for himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in him”. Only in God can our thirst for love, for life and for meaning be satisfied.
We need to encounter Jesus the living water. True encounter with God leads to transformation. The Samaritan woman was looking for life in dead waters until she met Jesus the living water. She became not just a disciple but also a missionary to her brethren. This exactly what the Lord wants to achieve in us this Lenten season: to come to him the water and become his missionaries that will bring salvation to our brothers and sisters.
Perhaps some of us are still looking for life in dead waters by living a sinful life. Sin is a dead stagnant water which guarantees no survival for life. What do you thirst for and where do you get satisfaction? Every soul that thirsts for God shall be satisfied, as the scripture says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6). “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17-19).