Pastoral Sharings: " Third Sunday in Lent"


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
John 4:5-42
Gospel Summary

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.

Our Life in the Sacraments
Last week we looked at five of the seven sacraments of the Church.  This week I shall explain about the two great sacraments of ministry:  Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony.

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. 

Apostles Who Weren’t Part of the Twelve?
In a recent post we looked at the question of how many apostles there were. 

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. In addition to the original Twelve apostles, there was also Matthias, who replaced Judas as one of the Twelve, and Paul, who was never a member of the twelve.

The Spreading Cancer of Relativism and What to Do about It
Moral relativism takes the position that there are no universal moral truths that can be said to govern all human behavior. Instead morality is relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. In this philosophy decisions would be based on: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  “Your truth is not my truth.”  “Live and let live.”

Apostles Who Weren’t Part of the Twelve? 
In a recent post we looked at the question of how many apostles there were.   

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. In addition to the original Twelve apostles, there was also Matthias, who replaced Judas as one of the Twelve, and Paul, who was never a member of the twelve.
The Spreading Cancer of Relativism and What to Do about It 
Moral relativism takes the position that there are no universal moral truths that can be said to govern all human behavior. Instead morality is relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. In this philosophy decisions would be based on: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  “Your truth is not my truth.”  “Live and let live.”

Who Needs the Church? You might as well ask, “Who needs Jesus?”
I was asked to go to a neighboring parish and address some fundamental questions related to the necessity of the Church. Many today question the need for a church or The Church and claim they can have Jesus without the Church. And thus the fundamental question “Who needs the Church?” ought to be addressed.

Lent: Victory Over The Demonic
Believers know that the devil is a liar since John teaches, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Exorcists and their teams have witnessed that when the power of the Roman Rite inflicts torment to a demon so that he must flee, the Lord, or His Mother, or a saint or angel may force him to offer some information that is true. Truth is contrary to his nature but the Spirit of Truth can force the lying spirit to offer a true statement that sometimes helps the exorcist.

Venial Sin
Presence of God – O Lord, inflame me with Your holy zeal, so that I will no longer be able to tolerate in myself the slightest thing which is displeasing to You.


Venial sin, like mortal sin, goes counter to God’s will, although with less serious deviation. While it does not destroy charity, it is opposed to it and therefore diminishes its fervor and vigor, hindering its development. This is the disastrous effect of deliberate venial sin committed with the realization that it is displeasing to God.

Satan is Real – Read these Amazing Stories
Latoya Ammons is a woman from Indiana who had to have an exorcism for herself and her children. The story is making its way across the news outlets, and unusual for a story like this–the supernatural phenomenon and Latoya and her family’s subsequent deliverance has been treated seriously and objectively. Part of the reason for this is because a hard headed cop named Charles Austin got involved, doubted the paranormal dimension and was soon convinced.

The Faith of the Demons
The message of James 2 is one that should have its readers—like the demons the author mentions—shuddering.

Here is the crucial passage:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

To Begin Again
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103).
Don’t you love the idea, the notion, the concept of a fresh start? I love to read about new beginnings. Or listen to life-changing stories and testimonies of people. They renew and energize us. They give us the opportunity to lift up our heads and our hearts and look toward the future. I am convinced that all of us need this type of boost.

St. Augustine On the Beatitudes
In 393, Saint Augustine wrote his Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. In this edifying treatise, he begins with the weighty proclamation that “anyone who piously and earnestly ponders the Sermon on the Mount — as we read in the Gospel according to Mathew — I believe he will find therein… the perfect standard of the Christian Life.” And indeed, prayerful contemplation on Christ’s Sermon will reveal that it possesses the divine principles of justice leading to a deep understanding of the way in which we ought to live in order to answer Christ’s call to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Protestant Achilles’s Heel
According to ancient Greek legend, the great warrior, Achilles, was invulnerable against attack, except for one area of weakness—his heel. That weakness would be expoited near the end of the Trojan War by Paris. As the story goes, he shot Achilles in the heel with an arrow, killing his seemingly undefeatable foe.

Okay, so referring to Sola Scriptura as the Protestant Achilles’s Heel is not a perfect analogy. There are many weak spots in Protestant theology. But the use of the image of “Achilles’s Heel” in prose today is employed not only to accentuate a singular weakness in an otherwise impenetrable person or institution, but a particularly acute weakness. It is in that sense that I think the analogy fits.

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