Reflections: Lent - Sunday III (19th March 2017)
Book of Exodus (34:6) presents god as “full of mercy…abounding in truth and loving kindness”. People of Israel, journeying through the desert, are in a crisis situation, having “no water in drink”. They “put the Lord to test”; they demanded “water to drink”; they were ready to stone Moses. Their arrogant demand for God’s assistance, defying the miraculous manna “the bread from heaven” they ate in the desert, is a sign of weakened faith and “hardened heart”. For the psalmist they have become a “people whose hearts go astray, they do not know my ways” (Ps. 95:10).
Yet the Lord wants his people to listen to his voice today and come to the “rock of salvation (95:1). Once again at Horeb, on the Lords’ saying Moses strikes the rock and water gushed out for the people to drink. Here in the rock we see the image of God, the fountain of the “living water”. St. Paul recalls this incident to remind the community of Corinth that the rock was Christ and “all of them drank from the same spiritual drink” (Cor 10:4). God the impenetrable Rock allows himself to be struck and from his own wound life pours forth. From the heart of Jesus, pierced by the lance flowed forth blood and water; from the cross, the power of the spirit flows into the world and gives new life. “Out of him shall flow streams of living water” (Jn 7.37).
In the Gospel of St. John (4:5-42): The conversation between Jesus and a woman from Samaria has to be read in the context of the animosity and rivalry between Jews and the Samaritans. The high point of the conversation is the woman’s realization that Jesus is the Messiah and that she becomes a disciple of Jesus and brings the Samaritan townspeople to meet Jesus. We can mark the significance of this encounter in the way Jesus interacts with the woman, an outcast and a sinner, in order to teach us that God’s mercy is beyond limit, steps over borders and boundaries and touches the human heart deep down with an offer of ‘living water’, the source of eternal life. The woman, in a gradual process of conversion of heart, is enabled to understand true worship in ‘spirit and truth’ (v.24) and acknowledge Jesus as Saviour of the world (v.42).
Apostle Paul writing to Romans takes it to a final note. God’s love “has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (5:5) “while we were all sinners” (5:8); a divine love which surpasses all human love and that puts us at peace with God through Jesus Christ so that the glory of God can be realized in our very being.
An encounter with ‘grace’ changes everything. During this week of lent let us seek that encounter, desiring change within us. Let us alter the direction of our lives.
(Readings:1 R Ex 17:3-7; 2 R Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Gos Jn 4:5-42)