The liturgy of today reminds us strongly of our baptism. That is why I have chosen the Readings from Year A. It is the water that began to quench our thirst for all that is good and worthwhile, above all for God himself. It is the water that never dries up; for baptism is not just a ritual but life, a new way of living, a lasting attachment to the person of Christ and a union with the community of the Church. It is the life of Christ that keeps growing in us. Jesus himself nourishes this life here in the Eucharist. Let us ask him to keep giving us this living water and to make us share it with others.
Let us pray to God
that the life of Christ in us
may be rich and full.
Father of life
and giver of all that is good,
we want to drink your life to the full.
Let Jesus, your living Word,
speak to us from heart to heart.
Give us an unquenchable thirst
for the things that matter:
for faith and for meaning in our lives,
for hope in a better world
filled with your justice and peace,
for a spirit of committed love
that knows how to share itself.
Generously give us all these
through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
Realhomilie……..Year A readings NOT Year C. Because of the Catechumens who will be received into the Church at Easter.
The names that we give to our children at Baptism are generally well thought out beforehand, because a person’s name is very precious; it is their identity. As we grow older, the sound of our name can be music to our ears, or the sound could herald something serious. It all depends on how our name is said. Many years ago when I went to school, we were generally called by our Surnames…Walshie has always been my name, and it continued in Seminary days even to this day, especially by the Priests and Brothers; over time it has been a name of endearment.
For our Australian Aboriginal sisters and brothers, they are generally not in a hurry to give their child a name after birth, they wait until they start to see aspects of its personality emerge. Sometimes the names that we give our children are handed down from generation to generation or they might be a special Saint’s name whose life we might strive to imitate. Our name is us! When we re call the name of a person in conversation, the whole person comes to mind….hopefully bringing smiles to our faces.
In the first reading this Sunday, we have the unveiling of God’s name through loving action. This begs the question: how do we get to know God? Well, believe it or not, we get to know God in the same way as we get to know each other. How did you meet you wife or husband? How, and when did you meet your best friend? The gradual knowledge of who that person is, becomes known to us through: 1. Intrigue…chemistry attraction. 2. A thrilling adventure opens up. 3. Trust is required. 4. Conversation fuels the development of the relationship. The same applies to God…….however, there is something a bit different. WE could never have found God, if God had not found US first!!
Let’s have a look at Exodus Chapter 3…Moses in the quiet of the evening, sees a Bush on fire, but not burning up….what does he do? Curiosity seizes him, and he goes to check it out. The Lord God saw him going forward….and the Lord God called Moses by his name! Wow! What a surprise that must have been for Moses? The Lord God tells Moses to unstrap his sandals because the ground is holy. Here we have an act of trust required by Moses, because as he undoes his sandals, his back is open to attack! What makes this new ground holy? The budding conversation that is changing Moses forever! Then the Lord God shares a little more with Moses about who he is…..’Ah! Thinks Moses, this is the God of my ancestors…we have stories about this God’. Here the Lord God identifies with the suffering of his people, and hears their cry for help. The Lord God will deliver his people from misery, and give them their own fertile land. As this conversation gets deeper between the Lord God and Moses, another huge act of trust is required by Moses….Guess who was to be the spokesperson on behalf of the Lord God? Moses himself!!!
Here we have the unveiling of the Divine Name….not a usual name, because a usual name cannot contain God! ‘I am who am’…..YHWH…Meaning: – You will know who I am from what my people who have experienced me say about me in their stories. You will know who I am through what I do for you. You will know who I am from what I say to you. Hence the household name for God is Adonai…Lord!
Now today, we have a thread or theme of Water running through the three readings. Exodus 17:3-7. Romans 5:1-2. 5-8 John 4:5-42. Let’s
Have a good look at the theme of water and its profound meaning for all times and all people. Without water…we cannot exist. Without water, we would die. If our plants do not have water, they die. In fact nothing would live. When we are really thirsty, that is the only thing on our mind. We just need a drink! Our bodies are substantially made up of water. Water is the supreme symbol of LIFE!
In the first Reading we hear God’s people screaming out for water…..they complain to Moses….the instrument of the Lord God, for bringing them out into a horrible desert. However, this means more than just wanting a cool drink; it was also a test of the people’s trust in the lord God, and a trust in Moses. But it would also turn into a real SIGN of the Lord God’s love for his grumbling people, by giving them cold water from the Rock at Meribah.
The response to the Psalm today is a fantastic twitter message: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts! This message should be on every day of our Outlook Express Calendar! This saying should be one of the most significant magnet messages on our Fridge, this message should become part of our bone marrow, and should be tattooed on our arms and heart.
In the second reading from Romans, we see that the life of the Holy Spirit has been freely poured like water into our hearts! As we listen to and respond to the Holy Spirit, the ‘life’ of God runs through us, and enables us to positively respond to the Lord God’s Mission, and be Christ in the world! The Gospel today is just and incredible expose’ of the ongoing life of God offered to all! Yes, all people, no matter who they are.
Let’s look at the Well; an ancient site of God’s benevolence to His people….a place of refreshment, a place of Life. Now, we are dealing with John’s Gospel, it is packed with symbols and deep meaning and today’s Gospel has its fair share of all of that. Let’s go deep sea diving into the symbolism. Firstly Jesus is in foreign territory…the Samaritans and the Jews really did not like each other. Jesus, followed by his companions are deliberate in making their passage into this territory and to this well. Notice that Jesus breaks a custom for a greater good by asking the Samaritan woman he she could draw some water from the well to give him a drink. She is well aware that Jesus is a Jew and takes note of the break in custom. However, this beginning of the conversation prepares the way for something ‘life changing’ for the woman and is deeply profound for all of us in all times and ages. The Johannine Community who put together this Dramatic presentation in Chapter 4, which is part of The Book of signs, is filled with evergreen meaning. Remember the conversation that Moses had with the angel of the Lord at the Burning Bush? That place became hallowed from the conversation…..here at the Well, this conversation is enabling the place and the message to be hallowed. Jesus, questions her about her Husband, and it seems that she had had a checkered career with husbands….but let’s not get hooked on that aspect, because here there is a far deeper parable at work. It would seem that the five husbands stand for the first five Books in the Torah….the Law for Israel. Jesus is saying that on that Law, He, surpasses that, but is built on that….Jesus is offering New Life, and He is the living Water. Just as in the Book of Exodus, the Lord God unveils His name…’I am who am’ YHWH, he we see the Divine name being revealed by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. Note that in the Gospel text Jesus says to the woman, ‘I who am speaking to you’, said Jesus, ‘I am he’. Notices that Jesus also says that He is food….food like the Manna in the Desert……another action….SACRAMENT of nourishment, inclusion and mission!
Notice that it the Gospel today as always, Jesus invites us to wholesomeness…..I believe that means holiness! Holiness is not measured by the calluses on our knees, but by the nimbleness of our hearts…the sweetness of our relationships, not by arrogance, not by superiority, not by pomposity in the name of Religion…nor appearing like an Emperor of the Church….but the real symbols of holiness is a towel, a basin and a water jug!
God speaks to us through his Word, because it is always evergreen. God speaks to us through His living Body – God’s People, the Church. God is present with us, and in us, through the Eucharist………We become, what we eat! God speaks to us through His Word….God shows us his voice in our sisters and brothers. Maybe our Lenten prayer could well be…’Speak Lord your Servant is listening’…..instead of, ‘Listen Lord, your servant is speaking’. Food for Thought! In the Biblical Scriptures, WATER is a very important and strong theme. Its theme focuses in on the very nurturing from God….namely, ‘life giving’.
We are now half way through Lent….let’s do a different kind of examination of conscience…
THE WOMAN AT THE WELL.
ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named SAD-OF HEART met Jesus at the well. Sighing with relief she placed the burden of her leaden heart at his feet. “No one cares”, She cried to him. He turned her face to him and held it in his strong hands. He just loved her. ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named BURNED-OUT CASE found Jesus at the well. “I’m too tired to go on. No one really understands. I feel used up, nothing more to give. I want to quit, but I don’t know how” she sobbed as she held out the worn out pieces of her life, faded, frayed, and fragile. Jesus offered her his arm and said, “Come to me and I will refresh you and restore you to wholeness”. ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named ANGRY discovered Jesus at the well. “Why isn’t anyone willing to listen to me?” she shouted. “What do I do that turns away my chances of being heard? Must I be a first class story teller just to get a hearing?” Jesus took her anger as one receives a gift and said, “Speak to me. My heart is ready, my heart is ready.” And so we pray: – If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named RESENTMENT approached Jesus at the well. Her face could not hide her feelings. “No matter how much I do, it never seems enough,” she complained. “I resent that my performance is measured against someone else’s accomplishments. I can only be who I am.” Laying his hand on her head, Jesus whispered into her ear: “you are my chosen, holy and beloved.” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named WANTING-TO FALL-IN-LOVE-AGAIN sought Jesus at the well. The light in her eyes spoke the questions in her heart. “How can I fall in love all over again? What will it look like when I do and how will I know I have?” Radiant with joy, Jesus smiled at her and said, “if only you recognized God’s Gift…the desire to love is already loving…!” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named NEEDING-FORGIVENESS came to Jesus at the well. Tears of repentance like gentle rain washed over her face and fell on his sandaled feet. “Forgive me, for I have sinned, and my sin is always before me. Do not cast me away from your presence”. Holding her to his heart, Jesus promised, “With great love I take you back, my love. I will never leave you and my covenant of peace shall not be shaken. As far as the east is from the west, so far have I cast your sins from you.” And so we pray: – If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named WAITING-IN-STILLNESS sat with Jesus at the well. She looked at his face. She said nothing. She held her heart in readiness.
‘Give me your heart.” Jesus said, ‘I want to fill the emptiness. I want to mend the brokenness. I want to give it the shape of my own.” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named CONFUSED-OF-HEART dragged her feet in the dust as she approached Jesus at the well. She couldn’t raise her eyes to him. “I don’t know what I want or how I feel. I have volcanoes and tidal waves inside me and I’m so afraid they will destroy me and those I care about.” Jesus called her to the rim of the well: “See how deep it is, probably so full. But we can only draw up one bucket at a time.” He dropped the bucket over the ledge, filled it a brought it to the top. “Take it slowly,” Jesus urged, “One bucket, one feeling at a time. The well of you is so deep, but I will help you draw yourself into light.” ANTIPHON: If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
A woman named APOSTLE raced to Jesus at the well. “Hurry,” she cried,
“There’s so much to do! I’m busy, I’m tired, but come on, let’s get moving!”
Jesus replied: “Let me stay with you awhile. You are bread for the world, but let me take you, bless you, break you open. Let ME give you to others…”
And so we pray: – If today you hear God’s voice harden not your hearts.
Shauna with her companion, Fr Kevin