Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS UNTIL THEY REST IN THE LORD! (ST. AUGUSTINE)
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday March 20 2022
(EXODUS 17:3-7; ROMANS 5:1-2,5-8; JOHN 4:5-42)
On this third Sunday of Lent, the church provides us another moment of grace to straighten us on our journey. Today, we celebrate the Lord who frees us from our slavery to sin, if only we listen to His warning to repent. At times, we are tempted to view repentance as something unimportant. On the contrary, it is an important step to salvation. It is a way through which God’s grace is mediated to us. Repentance is, feeling sorry for the sin we committed, and a firm resolve not to DELIBERATELY commit it again. Sincere repentance provokes God’s compassion, mercy and love.
The need for conversion, and above all the persevering patience of God, are lessons which have been stressed throughout Luke’s Gospel from the preaching of John the Baptist onwards. Especially stressed is the joyful welcome offered to the repentant sinner by God (in the story of the Prodigal Son, the lost sheep and lost coin) and by Jesus (the welcome to Zacchaeus and to the ‘Good Thief’). God calls us to repent, and it is within his power to punish us for our failure to turn from our sinfulness. And yet God is merciful. We must break free from our slavery to sins and seek to do good. Jesus is very clear with us: if we do not repent, and worship God in truth and spirit, we shall perish.
Repentance not only attracts mercy, compassion, forgiveness and salvation, It also brings about healing and restoration of hope for a better future. So, if we sincerely repent of our sins, God will not only forgive us, but He will heal us. He knows how miserable we are under the slavery of sin. He is aware of our enslavement by both habitual sins of omission and commission. He also knows the efforts we are making to live good lives and how we often fail. So this Lent, Jesus is ready to suffer with us so that we might be free from the slavery of sin. And despite our own failures and indifference, God always offers us a second chance.
Jesus is both the rock of our salvation, and our eternal living water. We also need a spiritual drink from the living water that flows from Christ, the Rock of Ages. Hence, we must: “Draw water from the well of salvation” (Is. 12:3) to quench our spiritual thirst this Lenten season. We worship in trust even when thirsty because we know God has a plan. As the reading states, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
The Samaritan woman was coming to the well on her own instead of with others, probably because she may have felt excluded due to her sinful past. There she met Jesus who had a plan for her, and that plan was to lead her to him. Instead of the water of her plans Jesus offered himself as the water to sustain. Jesus uncovered her past so that what was sinful could be healed. She came to the well bringing a water jar, but she found much more than water, so she left her jar by the well and hurried back to the towns people whom she had been avoiding, telling them that she may have found the Messiah. The woman of Samaria is an example to us. By sheer grace, like her, we have heard Jesus offer us living water. Jesus knows all about us, even what we do not want to face. But Jesus wants to give us a new identity in himself, to transform us.
Finally, my brother and sisters, the argument that ensued between Jesus and the woman represents the obstacles, that we must overcome to draw people to Christ, the Eternal Living Water. In other words, they represent the “rational” stubbornness” that the society will present to us before they finally yield to the gospel. Yes, God does understand, yes God does have a plan. All we need is to give ourselves completely to God, to trust completely in God, to allow God to be the source of all our existence.
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara