3rd Sunday in Lent Year A

Today in the Gospel we have a beautiful encounter with Jesus. Jesus is meant to be encountered. Yesterday I watched an amazing movie about St Ignatius of Loyola.  After his conversion, his brother brought him to a drinking establishment, which had prostitutes. They engaged a prostitute for him. Ignatius sat her down and said that he just wanted to talk to her. She told him her name and what kind of family that she had grown up with.  She shared with him her hopes and her skills in being a seamstress. Ignatius then led her to encounter Christ.  He told her to look at a chair across the room and to imagine Christ looking at her. She looked and began to see Him and she was surprised because He looked on her with great love, and He had never stopped looking at her with love.  The encounter was life changing.

Today’s Gospel gives us a very similar encounter with a woman who was an outcast.  It is a good idea to picture yourself in the Gospel because there are points that apply to each of us. How do we know that she was an outcast?  We know this because she is drawing water at midday. At midday it was hot and no one in their right mind would go to draw water.  Unless, that is, you were desperate not to see anyone. Jesus’ first question is stunning, “Give me a drink.” This woman had probably never been asked anything; she had been told what to do. The word “no” would probably have been a pretty foreign word to her. I think many of us can relate to that experience, we are afraid to say no because we must put aside our value. Jesus allows her to question Him and give a reason to say no.

Jesus then does something even more surprising - He said, “If you would have asked me, I would give you living water.” I doubt this woman had ever had a man serve her. Not just serve her, but offer her living water, that means water from a river. Whoa! Jesus just said, “Woman, for you I would go to the river, wherever it is, and get you good water, not stagnant well water.”  You could see why she was warming up to this man. And not only would it be living water, it would quench her thirst and so she wouldn’t have to perform the humiliating task of fetching water.

Then we get to the most amazing part. We can assume the woman must have had some attractiveness about her, since five men married her and she had at least one more. Jesus said to her to call her husband and she replied, “I have none.” The lady does not want to look bad to this man who has been so amazing to her.  Who would want to look bad in the presence of one that is so amazing. Many of us relate to the idea that that if we are not perfect then we are not lovable.  Therefore she goes for the perfect statement, “I am available.” Jesus tells her He knows everything about her and yet He still loves her.  He would still serve her and fetch her living water. Whoa that must have been so beautiful to hear -that God knows our sins yet He still wants to serve us and go the distance for us. This is true and we need to hear this.  God has looked lovingly on us.  He knows our sins and then loves us anyways (of course though, He does want to remove our sins).

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