THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

Dear Brothers and Sisters Water! We would all die quickly without water. Yet we often take water for granted. Water was what the Israelites need in the desert. They could not believe that Godwould take care of them, so they complained. The Book of Exodus speakseloquently about this. We can think of all that we want and of all of the things that we believe we cannot live without. We can meditate on the ways we put our God to the test. We can think of our rebellions against God because we don’t get what we want when we want it. Water is only the symbol!
The Letter to the Romans picks this up by looking at what we want and what God has already done for us. The Spirit has been poured into our hearts. Water is poured upon us in baptism and the Spirit is poured into our hearts. All God asks of us in return for this water of baptism poured into our hearts, is that we love: God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Yet we find love so very difficult! We love those who are nice to us but those who are difficult we want to put out of our lives. Jesus invites us to love all other people, and especially our enemies. What an enormous challenge! And we fail so very often. Do we return to trying to love? The Gospel from John today tells us once more aboutwater. It speaks with tenderness of the way Jesus treats other people andespecially a woman who has had a very complex marital background. This is Jesus at His best: always loving, always  accepting, never condemning–yet absolutely clear about the demands of the kingdom. Never do we hear Jesus telling others:
just do what you want; any behavior is fine; God will forgive you if you ask Him or not. No, Jesus is clear that the kingdom will demand our lives from us. We must convert and live.

The demand of the kingdom is to love one another and to begin to live as Jesus lived in this life: accepting all others, striving to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, gently encouraging others to live thelife of the Kingdom. Our challenge in Lent is to live with Jesus and to allow our lives to be changed. Another challenge is to proclaim the Kingdom in a way that is compelling because of the witness of our own personal lives. These are not things that we do completely naturally. Only grace can all us to be transformed. Only grace gives us the courage to live lives of loving witness.

Jesus draws the Samaritan women to God through His love and compassion. He does not condemn. He does invite to another way of living. May you and may I live this life of the Kingdom. May ourown lives be so centered in following the Lord that the love of God pours forth from us as water in the desert. Only that love of God can bring true conversion.

Father Jesus