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3rd Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A Homiletic reflection by Fr Brian Gleeson CP, Melbourne Australia. DECIDING FOR LIFE…..

 DECIDING FOR LIFE…..

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Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! Life is full of them. Many are not particularly important. Many are routine. But sometimes we sense a need deep inside us to make a decision that is different. One that is going to change our lives so much that life will never be the same again! We decide, e.g. to take our problem to a counsellor. We join a support group for help with an addiction. We accept an offer of friendship. We join a club. We meet someone special and fall in love. We answer an advertisement for a job that will take us interstate or overseas. We leave a higher paying job for one with more meaning, one in which we can be more helpful to others. We quit hanging out with friends whose standards and values are dragging us down. We sense a call from God to work for others as a church worker or a social worker.

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The change we need or want to make requires us to leave a lot behind, leave our comfort zones and alter our lifestyles. But the promise of better days ahead impels us to take this brand new direction in our journey of life.

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We see this happening today with ‘the woman at the well’ who seemingly by chance comes across Jesus resting at Jacob’s well in the region of Samaria. It happens like this: – It’s mid-day. Jesus is thirsty. He’s thirsty for water, but even more he is thirsty for a meaningful connection with this woman, to other Jews an alien and outsider. The story-teller does not give her a name because she represents each one of us. Her conversation with Jesus includes symbols and word-plays. Eventually he breaks through her sarcasm and her other defences and touches the guilty secrets of her life. After five husbands already, her current live-in lover is not her husband at all!

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His focus on her past life is not to hurt her but to expand her vision and offer her hope. She grasps that in the unexpected friendship this stranger is now offering her, something new and wonderful is happening. Even in her messed-up life God is getting involved and reaching out to her with compassion! So much so, that she cannot but ask herself: ‘Who is this man who is so different from all the others I’ve known? Why is he so respectful? Why is he so attentive? Why is he so kind and caring? Is he perhaps even greater than the father of our people, Jacob? Could he possibly be a prophet with a message from God? Could he even be the promised Messiah, the Saviour of all?’

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She is now the one who is thirsty. She is thirsting, longing, craving, to get to know him better. As they continue their conversation she finds that Jesus is satisfying her thirst not only to know him better, but also her longing and determination to get a life, a brand new life, a much better life than ever before. It’s his interest in her, his words, his gestures, and his whole attitude, together with the time and space he’s giving her that is making all the difference. She finds him as purifying, refreshing and invigorating as a stream of running water. She’s sensing something of the truth spoken by St Paul in our Second Reading today: ‘… the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit … given to us’. She’s sensing, in short, that Jesus loves her, and that God in Jesus loves her. She’s now convinced that life will never be the same again because she will never be the same again.

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There and then she reaches another decision – that she simply cannot keep Jesus all to herself. She must bring others to him as well. So we find her running to her village and shouting at the top of her voice to anyone and everyone who will listen, the good news about him. She blurts out: ‘He just told me everything I’ve ever done.’ Touched by her excitement and enthusiasm, the villagers beg Jesus to stay with them. He ends up staying two whole days. His words and presence make such a deep impression that they end up saying to the woman: ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you have told us; we have heard him for ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

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Our story of ‘the woman at the well’ asks you and me to remember and keep remembering all the ways we have experienced the presence of Jesus to us, and all the ways we have experienced his love for us. It asks us to consider how humble, kind, sensitive, understanding and forgiving he has been with us. It asks us in return to extend the firm hand of friendship and the over-flowing waters of mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness and forgiveness, to every person who comes into our lives. To family, friends, colleagues, workmates, strangers, customers, clients, patients, students, simply to anybody and everybody!

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This touching story of the goodness and kindness of Jesus goes with the words of our psalm today, ‘if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts’. So much so that you and I will surely also want to go to Jesus, the Saviour of the world in Holy Communion with him today, and beg him to stay with us always and forever. To stay with us and be for us and for every other person that very same living, purifying, refreshing, life-giving water that he was to that truly blessed woman, the one known for evermore as ‘the woman at the well’!
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3rd Sunday of Lent Year A, 2017. A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, Sydney Australia. The Water of new life, never runs dry!

 The Water of new life, never runs dry!

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We live in a land of extremes!!! Droughts, floods, cyclones, scorching heat waves, thundering surf, gentle breezes, blue skies and warm sunshine! A sun burnt country surrounded by jewel seas! The interior of the Holy Land in lots of ways is somewhat like our own. When one is thirsty, there is nothing more that matters than to have some water. In the first reading today, we hear of God’s people grumbling, because they were thirsty, and I guess that even though they were experiencing liberation from Egyptian slavery, their consuming need to drink, engulfed all their thoughts and desires. The desire to be refreshed caused a haze within their corporate minds, which blurred their memory of the saving activity of their loving God among them.

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In the midst of their questions and grumbling, God once again hears the cry and appeal from His people, and the Lord God comes to their aid. The water gushing from the rock at Meribah was more than just a free cold drink! It had far deeper spiritual significance; it was an outward sign of God’s life within his people, and enabling them to respond to Him in fidelity, and loving commitment, even while they were somewhat wayward.

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This theme is taken up in today’s Gospel, where Jesus enters into a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Adding to the depth and meaning of this story, is the fact that Jews and Samaritans had a terrible dislike for each other, and it was improper for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, and the same went for the Samaritans towards Jews. This means nothing to Jesus: he initiates a dialogue, which has far deeper implications than just the breaking with local customs! Through the discussion with the Samaritan woman, we see that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law; the Torah, (the first five Books of the Bible) and he in fact is the in fleshed Word of God offering new life, and salvation for all; life giving water is the greatest symbol par excellence of ‘new life’.

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The Kingdom of God does not depend upon certain places or spaces of worship; but it is an inner conversion which opens one up to see in Jesus the saving hand of God at work. In short, the water from Jacob’s well reminds us of the bottomless reservoir of God’s love and life, offered to us and everyone all the time, in some of the most unusual places and through people that would never have come to our mind.

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The Sacrament of Baptism is the beginning step for us as we journey towards full incorporation into the body of Christ. The fact that we have candidates in our midst who are preparing for entrance into our community at Easter, is a reminder to all of us, that the life which our God offers us is not solely to quench our personal thirst for His love, but as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, it is ‘Our Father’ to whom we pray, and that companionship which we share through the Eucharist, urges us in love to reach out to one another, as Jesus did to the Samaritan. It is a challenge to break through the social so called ‘correctness’ to know that God’s Household is for all! Fortunately, we see this all the time in Pope Francis who welcomes everyone, much to this distaste of some of his Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and people. May this time of Lent invite us to recognize the Lord in those, who unexpectedly may offer us the life giving waters of love and compassion. May we in turn be sensitively alert, to welcome those who come and sit at the well with us in daily life, and may we realize, like the Samaritan woman, that we are not alone, our God never abandons us!

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I would like to include an Examinations of Conscience which I have often used on the Third Sunday of Lent, because we are nearly half way through this season of Spiritual Training. Now, in this Reflection there are a number of women who come to the well…please note that the depositions that these women bring with them, are similar to what us blokes bring to the well. See what you think of this….

THE WOMEN AT THE WELL.

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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.

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”.

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.”

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.”

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 recognised God’s Gift…the desire to love is already loving…!”

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 sandalled 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.”

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.”

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.”

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…”

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

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This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Lent you might like to place some purple material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

Baptism

LEADER: By the water of baptism we become members of Christ’s Body, the Church. With complete confidence we make known our needs to the Lord.
1. For all Church leaders from pope to parish ministers, that their work be blessed and made fruitful, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
2. For the leaders of our country and of every nation, that they work together to meet the needs of the poor, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
3. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, justice and peace, that they be satisfied, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
4. For those who are preparing for adult baptism at Easter, that they look forward to this celebration with fervent joy, we pray to the Lord:
5. For all of us who worship together, that the love of God be abundantly poured into our hearts so we may pour out that love to others, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
6. For the ill, the aged and the dying, that their hope in God’s merciful love give them comfort and peace, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
7. For all who have died, especially N. and N., that they rejoice in the glory of God, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
8. Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and iPads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
LEADER: Gracious and generous God, help us to worship you in spirit and in truth and to be ever more grateful for your gifts of life and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Blessing……..
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.

Leader: The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.

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Fr Kevin Walsh
 Email: kevin.w3@bigpond.com Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/

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