Homily from Father James Gilhooley
March 23, 2014
Third Sunday of Lent – John 4:5-15, 19-26, 39, 40-42
A British princess was treated graciously by a shopclerk. She told his employer of his deference to her station. The puzzled shopkeeper said, “Princess, he treats everyone the same way.”
One reason the Father humanized His Son in the person of Jesus was to allow us to find a divine person eminently approachable. Thus we can latch onto Him in happy days but also in blue ones. One can prove this thesis by using today’s Gospel.
The first point to notice is the woman is not named. John wanted her to be a type for us sinners. Slip your name into the blank spot. There is room for every mother’s child of us.
The Christ painted here by the artist John is sensitive and warm. The reader can just about extend a hand and feel the Teacher.
When the Gospel opens, Jesus and His people are on the run from southern Palestine. John the Baptist had just been arrested. Christ did not want to wait around until the authorities decided to round up the usual suspects.
He and His party were heading quick march into the safety of the northern Palestinian mountains. He knew that territory better than the south. There nobody would lay a hand on Him. He would campaign again but on His own terms.
One of the great charms of Jesus, who owned nothing but a toothbrush bought at Wal-Mart, is that He could break camp anytime and at any place. He did not own enough to fill even a brown paper bag. John is asking us why we need to have so many possessions. We need a fleet of trucks to move us. After all, we can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.
For safety reasons, Jesus was moving through Samaria. The Samaritans disliked the Jews then as much as many Arabs do today. The Jewish police would not dare follow Him lest they be murdered. Ironically, events would prove the Nazarene received a better hearing from the S
amaritans than from His own fellow-Jews. He and the twelve were only into the second of their three day journey. They had covered thirty blistering miles and with no bottled water. The party finally came to a deep well fed by a fresh spring of delicious cool water. It was near the town of Sychar.
There was a problem. Jesus had no rope or bucket. The well was one hundred feet deep. Shrewd John is faxing us the message that the clever Jesus began His journey without a jar. John here is asking all of us, “Isn’t this a Christ you can identify with? Have you not yourselves made similar dumb mistakes?”
His apostles rush off to Home Depot to buy rope and a bucket. But the Teacher is too dehydrated to join them. His get up and go had got up and gone. His feet were killing Him. His wet clothing was sticking to His skin. John is shouting to us, “Jesus knew what exhaustion was.” Do you feel you cannot relate with Him?”
John too is telling us the Messiah gave others the opportunity to do favors for Him. He knew that others are anxious to be generous. Do we accept favors reluctantly?
No doubt Christ sat in the shade offered by the well. The energies He had left were spent fighting off the mosquitoes looking for lunch. He was feeling sorry for Himself. Can you not identify with Him?
The Samaritan woman found herself attracted to this Christ. Why was she so swept off her feet by the Man at the well? This was not the first man she had met. If anything, she was an authority on men. She could have written her own Dear Abby column. As Christ gently reminded her, she had six lovers. She had forgotten more about men than most women will ever know.
Professional prostitute though she might be, Christ engaged this woman as an equal. He showered her with kindness and treated her as a princess. This type of deference she had never received from any of her Johns. They had treated her like white trash. He realized the truth of the aphorism that while words can’t break bones, they can break hearts. Christ saw in her not the evil she had done but rather the heroine she could become with His encouragement.
Do you believe Jesus will not forgive your sins? Recall the sinner who asked the monk: “Will Jesus really forgive me?” The monk asked: “Do you throw away dirty clothes?” “No.” “Then neither will Jesus throw you away. No matter what your past, your future is spotless.”
Come and drink a glass of cool well water with Christ and confess your sins.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
March 23, 2014
Third Sunday of Lent
It is high noon when Jesus stops to rest by the well of Jacob. His revelation about life-giving water will provide a light that challenges the sun. When he asks the Samaritan woman for a drink, she is amazed that he seems so unaware of how things really are. Does he not know about the human conventions that have condemned her to social invisibility? After all, women were supposed to be ignored in public and she was also a despised Samaritan. How can Jesus be so out of touch?
3rd Sunday of Lent: The Hope His Forgiveness Provides
The long gospel of the woman at the well, the fourth chapter of John, is a wonderful drama of sin and forgiveness. On Monday of last week we had a reading from the Book of Deuteronomy which spoke about how the people who sinned were shamefaced. That must have been how the woman looked. At least she certainly must have felt ashamed of herself. All Jesus had to do was mention her current living arrangements, that she was living with someone who was not her husband and then the five husbands she had already had, and she was aware of her sinful life. She felt dead inside. That is what sin does to us. It makes us feel like we are dead. But Jesus had promised her living water. She received it. She received forgiveness. And she went into town exuberant, full of life, full of love and full of hope.
Meaning of Lent & the Samaritan Woman
Lent is a time of introspection. We read Exodus, and watch the Israelites grumbling, even after the amazing things God had done for them (Ex 17:3-7). In them, we recognize ourselves. For many of us, then, Lent is time for the spiritual equivalent of New Year’s resolutions. We set aside work on ourselves for forty days so we don’t end up wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years. We do things to burn off the excess fat that’s weighing us down, try to improve our spiritual diet, and do some meaningful spiritual exercises to strengthen the muscles we call “virtues.”
Scripture Speaks: To Quench Our Thirst
Gospel (Read Jn 4:5-42)
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well plants us deeply into the mystery of salvation—God’s great love for sinners. During Lent, we take special notice of ourselves as sinners, spending time and effort to recognize the seriousness of sin and to rejoice in Christ’s victory over it. Our lectionary readings highlight both of these Lenten realities in a most wonderful way.
Pope Reminds Faithful to Take Word of God to Heart
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis warned against trying to co-opt the word of God for one’s own purposes, as did the Pharisees, urging prayer and humility instead, in his homily for Mass on March 21.
“This is the tragedy of these people — and our tragedy too!” he preached during his Mass said at the chapel of the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse.
A “Used-to-be” Lent
This time of the year, these forty days of preparation for Holy Week and Easter, I often hear folks over fifty-five or so reminisce about how Lent“used-to-be.”“Remember the tuna casseroles and grilled cheese sandwiches?”
“I used to long for Sunday when I could have a piece of the candy I had given-up for Lent.”
Serve Like St. Joseph
As a Catholic father, I have come to meditate quite frequently during the holy sacrifice of the Mass on the unbelievable gift that God the Father, through his Son, Jesus Christ, gave us in holy Communion through the Eucharist.
This Eucharist, the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Savior and the re-enactment and unbloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on our church altars daily is such a mystery and such a gift that I believe few of us totally comprehend and appreciate its significance in our lives and in our world.
We Can Find our Place in God’s World
One of the greatest tragedies of history is that He who carpentered the universe was carpentered to a Cross. There is tragic irony in the fact that He who spent most of His life in handling wood and nails and crossbeams met His end on a deathbed made of those very things. One of our own American priest-poets has described in touching language how the nails of the carpenter shop became the nails of the Carpenter’s Cross.
What is a Suffering Man Worth?
How much is man worth? So asked Pope Francis in a recent letter to the Pontifical Academy for Life on the occasion of the estimable academy’s annual meeting and celebration of its 20th anniversary. The Pope posed the question as he lamented the cultural push to deny the intrinsic worth and dignity of a person when he faces suffering, is disabled, or is elderly.
Why do many miss experiencing Jesus in our parishes? How can we change this?
The teaching of sacred Scripture on intercessory prayer is complex, and unless we maintain a balanced view of the fuller teaching of Scripture, distortions in our understanding of the prayer of petition (or intercession) can occur.
In the Gospel for Thursday in the first week of Lent, the Lord gives a teaching on prayer that seems quite straightforward. He says:
Have I Grown Closer To Jesus Today?
As we journey through the forty days of Lent, it’s easy to lose our focus. Even if we remain faithful to our Lenten sacrifices, we can still lose sight of our main goal – growing closer to the Lord. While it is entirely possible that giving up sweets, coffee or beer can draw us closer to Jesus (by uniting our suffering with His or recognizing that we may be chasing after the comfort provided by worldly things), it’s also possible that we can become so obsessed with our self-denial that we may lose sight of Him entirely.
Faith Simplifies Prayer
Faith simplifies us, in the way we live, and even in our prayer. During Lent, elaborate meditations involving our imagination, composition of place and attending to the movements of our hearts can all be helpful. One should use these as long as one draws good fruit. It can also be helpful to remember the beautiful ways that the Lord has visited us in the past whether in something that happened in prayer or in something that happened as a result of it – as long as we do so to thank Him and not out of some nostalgic impulse to live in the past.
On Suffering as A Remedy for Something Worse. A Meditation on a Teaching from St. Augustine
When asked, most people identify their most serious problems as issues related to their physical health, or finances. Family and career issues also rank up there.
But frankly, our biggest problem is pride, and all the sins that flow from it. Nothing is more serious than our sins, which can destroy us forever. Worldly problems are temporary. The worst they can do is to make life unpleasant, or kill us; then we get to go home and meet God if are faithful.
Loving as God Loves
”He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
While driving home, I was stopped at a red light behind a brand new pickup truck that was flaunting a hateful, anti-Christian bumper sticker. I was stunned by the wicked display against our Lord, and as a Christian, was also personally insulted.
Saintly Wisdom for Worriers
A recent Gallup poll revealed that most Americans, ages 18 to 65+, say that the U.S. economy is their greatest worry followed by the national debt crisis and sluggish job market. While it is not surprising that economic issues are top of mind when it comes to what American’s are most worried about, I think we can also agree that, to one extent or another, we worry about many things during these challenging times.