Third Sunday of Lent 2017

Readings can be found here.

(I am using the long form for the Gospel.)
My “Player Jesus” meme
Generated via

This week, it seems like the theme is water, and I have to admit: It’s ironic for me. This past week, I was just thirsty. All. The. Time. And, of course, I had every sexy symptom that comes with thirst, including dry lips, a dry mouth, and a scratchy throat. We all know how important water is–besides the fact that we need it to survive, it keeps our skin glowing and smooth. Yet, we often avoid drinking water for whatever reason and fill our bodies with junk that can be used to clean toilets! (Coke, I’m looking at you.) Why?! Why do we do that to ourselves??

I think it has something to do with the “taste” of water. We fill our bodies with all this crap that when we finally get to the stuff that’s actually good for us, we start grumbling and complaining: “It doesn’t taste like anything!” “It tastes like my spit!” “It tastes like old plastic!” What do we do after that? Fill our bodies with more crap.

It seems that the Israelites were doing just this in our first reading. We see throughout the exodus that the Hebrews always have something to complain to Moses about, and, this week, it’s water. They filled their minds with all this crap that life in Egypt was better, specifically mentioned in Exodus of the meals and water that they didn’t have to worry about. Then, when they get to thoughts of God (Who, in our analogy, is water), they complain with thoughts, particularly, about where He is, if He even loves them, or even if Moses was playing them all along. Thus, they either openly complain about it or secretly take in more soda, AKA the thoughts of Egypt.

Yet, later, in Psalm 81, we find that God was testing them there at Meribah, leading us to our Psalm for this week: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” If we maintain the analogy of God and His Word being water (Which, philosophy input here, the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales believed everything is water. I’m probably stretching here, but coincidence?), and water is a natural thinner (like, opposite of food thickener), then we can hold that the Word of God can thin/soften our hearts. That’s the easy logical conclusion. But what are the implications of this? Well, if we’re a hydrophobic substance, then we’re not going to very well be inclined to accept that Word. So how do we go from being hydrophobic to hydrophilic?

I think, as we find in this week’s Gospel, it is about asking the right questions and being open to, first, finding out what those questions are; second, to continue to desire both the questions and the answers that might be found; and, third, to be open to have those answers changed. (This might sound Gnostic, but hear me out here.) Take a look at the woman at the well and contrast her to the disciples. While she may be slightly hesitant at first–most likely due to societal boundaries–she continues to probe Jesus with questions, eventually arriving at Mark’s secret, which is that Jesus is the Christ. Obviously John isn’t too worried about Mark’s secrecy motif, but, in this passage, he sure keeps the disciples ignorant because John clearly states that they were amazed, yet they didn’t ask questions. Of course, not taking that first step is going to hinder a person from achieving the other two in order to be hydrophilic, so let’s keep exploring the Samaritan woman.

To the second step, clearly the woman has to be wondering who Jesus really is at some point. Yet she is unafraid to continue to probe Jesus without having the answer to that question just yet. She has to be wondering where to get the living water Jesus is talking about, yet she continues on the dialogue without having the answer to that question, hoping more questions will lead her closer to the answer.

As the dialogue continues between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, she reaches our third step eventually comes to a point where she stops asking questions and, instead, begins to posit what she knows: “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is Jerusalem” and “I know that the Messiah is coming…when he comes, he will tell us everything.” This leads to the third step because she has her whole understanding changed here. Jesus tells her that neither Jerusalem nor the mountain is the place to worship and that he is indeed the Messiah. Finally, after all of this, she seems like she finally has the answers….right? Well, in this story, sure. But, of course, humans have this bad habit of dying, and we all know the man Jesus eventually dies. So, the question turns into “What now?”

Well, shoot, this is where I’m at an impasse because I don’t have an answer. Sure, we know the story continues, yet we’re still here and Christ hasn’t come back; in the meantime, many of our friends have fallen away from the faith or just don’t really try, and sometimes we join in with them and take a day off from “this God stuff.”

And yet, as St. Paul reminds us in our second reading, it’s one thing for a person to find the courage to die for another good person; it’s another, harder thing for a person to find the courage to die for a sinner. This proves to us the love of God: We’re willing to take in the Coke every once in awhile, but despite that, He still loves us enough that He died for us. That’s why the theological virtues–faith, hope, love–are so significant. Last week, I talked about faith. This week, I think the theme is love. God loves us always. It is we who grumble and complain about it. Let us not be like the Hebrews at Meribah who grew stony hearts; instead, let’s allow the Lord to soften our hearts like He did with the Samaritan woman. It’s okay to be curious, ask questions, and be open. This is where we become hydrophilic. Through our curiosity and, hopefully, eventual understanding of God’s love, may we reject the Coke the world offers us and come to love the Living Water, which is everything.

Originally posted on my Blogger on 3/18/2017.

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