Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4: 5-42
A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later: “Da-ad…” “What?” “I’m thirsty. Can you bring me a glass of water?” “No. You had your chance. Lights out.” Five minutes later: “Da-aaaad…” “WHAT?” “I’m THIRSTY…Can I have a glass of water??” “I told you NO! If you ask again I’ll have to spank you!!” Five minutes later… “Daaaa-aaaad…” “WHAT??!!” “When you come in to spank me, can you bring me a glass of water?”
Welcome to the 3rd Sunday of Lent! The readings of the Third Sunday of Lent, form a triduum along with those of the Fourth and Fifth Sundays, emphasizing the baptismal themes of Water (the woman at the well), Light (the healing of the man born blind), and Life (the raising of Lazarus). These powerful readings remind those preparing for baptism, as well as all the baptized, what this baptismal life is all about.
“It shouldn’t have been like this.” As the Hebrews left slavery in Egypt we can imagine they thought they would have a great future ahead of them. They trusted Moses’ leadership and that God was finally freeing them. But now in the first reading (Ex 17:3-7) we see that all is not going well. We can imagine them saying, “It shouldn’t have been like this.” They are tormented by thirst and they are complaining. Now that they have run out of water they feel that God is distant. They no longer trust God. They complained about why they were in the desert. Moses was afraid that they might even stone him.
Instead of trusting in God they did the very opposite, they put God to the test. Maybe sometimes we murmur because we focus on what we don’t have or what we think we should have, rather than focusing on what God has already done for us. The Hebrews in the desert forgot one fundamental point; God had a plan for them and would see that plan through. Do we forget God has a plan for us and will provide for us?
The first reading is not just about the Hebrews in the desert. The first reading is also about us. So when things are not as we think they should be, “Keep calm and carry on.” God knows what we really need, not what we think we need, and God knows what will best prepare us for our future. God is to be first in our lives. God is the one who will make us happy. When things are not as we thought they would be, remember God has a plan.
God also had a plan for the woman of Samaria (John 4:5-42). It seemed just like any other day. She was coming to the well on her own instead of with the women of the town probably because she may have felt excluded due to her sinful past. There she met Jesus and he knew everything about her, about her past and her marriages.
But Jesus also 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 townspeople whom she had been avoiding to tell them that she may have found the Messiah.
Just as the Hebrews in the desert in the first reading are a warning to us, 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.
Jesus continues to hold out that offer of grace to us, “…whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14) 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 be the source of all our existence.
Yes, God does have a plan. Instead of murmuring like the Hebrews in the desert, “It shouldn’t have been like this” the Psalm invites us: “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah. (Ps 95:7-8)
All we need is to give ourselves completely to God, to trust completely in God, to allow God be the source of all our existence.