After all the wrong places, the Samaritan woman finally found what she was looking for

This is a translation of the Spanish homily that I preached on the
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A: March 27, 2011
Exod 17:3-7; Ps 95; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-52

Because we are corporeal beings—because we are not just souls, but a combination of soul and body—we are characterized by thirst, and by hunger.  Thirst for water; hunger for food.  And also for other things:  for we also need clothing and shelter; security; and things that are less tangible:  hunger for meaning, and for accomplishment; thirst for love, and for yet more.

And when we go without any of these needs for a very long time, it can be said of us—as it was said of the People of Israel in the desert in our first reading—that we are dying of thirst. We need it, but we don’t have it:  we are dying of thirst.  And what are we going to do to satisfy that thirst?

We know that human beings have done many different things to obtain food, water, shelter, security, accomplishment, and meaning.  But what dominates so many songs, so many movies, so many soap operas and other cultural works, whether high culture or pop culture—is the search for love.  How many stories have been told!  How many stories perhaps you yourself have lived!—in search of love.  And how many wrong roads perhaps you have tried—that are harmful, or are dead-ends; or that lead to a state of being lost, far from the right path, having become dirty with sin.

This is the situation of the Samaritan woman in our Gospel reading—who came by herself to draw water, at about noon; not with the other women in the cool of the day, because she was disgraced and excluded.  She had looked for love—she had “looked for love in all the wrong places.”  And her path of mistakes had led her to the point that, as Jesus revealed, she had had five husbands, and the one she had then was not her husband.  She was dying of thirst, although she had tried so hard to satisfy it.

Isn’t the Samaritan woman a representative of our own world today?  Christ has called us, through his word and his Church, to walk in the way of chastity.  We have to keep ourselves pure in mind and sight and body:

  • our imagination pure, without engaging in fantasies;
  • our sight pure, not looking at any form of pornography;
  • our body holy, without engaging in any sexual actions, neither alone nor with any other person to whom we are not married.

And that marriage must be holy:

  • it must be valid, joined in the Catholic Church or with the permission of the bishop, and not only in a government office or an another church or ecclesial community;
  • it must be permanent, and faithful, and for the good of the spouses;
  • it must be open to the gift of life, listening carefully to the call of God, without using any method of artificial contraception, but only Natural Family Planning, as the Church teaches.

And we know that many today live very far from this plan that Christ has shown to us and and called us to.  Perhaps you yourselves fall frequently from his way, or have chosen a state of life far from it.  At the least, you surely know many who have left his path and now wander far away, lost.

To all of them, and to all of us, to you yourself, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to our well, to our own town, however remote it might be, at whatever time we happen to be there.  Surprisingly, here he is!  And he says to us:

  • “Give me a drink.”
  • But—How can you ask me for a drink?  Don’t you know who I am, what I am like, how I live?
  • “Yes,” he replies, “and I am thirsting for you.  I am thirsting for your faith.  I have what you need, what you have always been looking for:  living water.”
  • But—where can you get this living water?  Are you the Messiah?
  • “I am he.  If you respond to me with the openness and receptiveness of faith, I will place within you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  • But, how can you do that?  How can I trust you?

And St. Paul explains to us in the second reading:

Only with difficulty does one die for a just person… But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

The love of God has been poured out into our hearts.  Have we truly received it—with faith?  With the trust and courage of following the way to which he has invited us?  Jesus says to us:  those who worship God must worship in Spirit and truth.

Lent is a special season of grace for leaving sin behind and following our Savior in a new way.

  • On all the Wednesdays of Lent, in this parish and all the parishes of the Washington DC metropolitan area, we have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The program is called “The Light is On For You”: and, from 6:30 to 8:00 on Wednesday evenings, this sacrament of mercy and conversion is offered.
  • And, if you need help in getting your matrimonial state straightened out, please, speak with Deacon Brandon Justice.  Although I celebrate Mass here only on the fourth Sunday of every month, Deacon Justice is assigned to this parish and can help you in many areas.

Our Savior invites us to leave sin behind and follow him more closely, so that we may receive the love of God poured into our hearts; so that we need not be dying of thirst, even if we have tried many false ways; but, at last, we may have and know the spring of water welling up to eternal life. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

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