March 19, 2017

3rd Sun. of Lent

March 19, 2017:  Third Sunday of Lent

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Mainly gospel-related

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Angelus:  Perhaps we haven't encountered Jesus personally yet. Perhaps we haven't recognized him as our Savior.  Today's gospel relates the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  Because of the great respect Jesus shows her despite her disordered life and being a Samaritan, she is open to his words.  She recognizes him as a prophet and intuits that he could be the Messiah, and Jesus tells her that he is, in fact, the Messiah.
The water that gives eternal life was poured out in our hearts when we were baptized; God transformed us and filled us with grace.  But we sometimes forget about the grace of our Baptism, or treat it as a piece of biographical data.  When that happens, we look for “wells” of water that can't quench our thirst.
Lent is a good opportunity to draw near to Jesus, to encounter him in prayer in heart-to-heart dialogue, to see his face in someone who's suffering.  In this way, we can renew the grace of our Baptism, quench our thirst at the font of the God's Word and the Spirit, and discover the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and instruments of peace.
Christ, 'true God from true God':  Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Sermon (concluded)
Who do you say I am?”  Christ's divinity holds up the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation like two doors that open and close together.  It's the cornerstone of Christian faith; if it's removed, everything crashes down, starting with the Trinity.  If the Son is not God, who forms the Trinity?  "If the Word isn't with the Father from everlasting, the Triad isn't everlasting, but a Monad was first, and afterwards by addition became a Triad" (Athanasius).
“It's no great thing to believe Christ died; pagans, Jews, and bad people are sure of it.  The faith of Christians is in his resurrection” (Augustine).  What's said about his death and resurrection should be said about his humanity and divinity.  Everyone believes Jesus was human; what distinguishes Christians from nonbelievers is the belief that he's God.  What place does Jesus Christ have in our society and in the faith of Christians?  In entertainment and media he's very present.  The figure of Christ appears in stories, films, and books.  Some take advantage of the appeal of Jesus’ name and of what he represents to many to guarantee publicity; I call that literary parasitism.  Though he's present in our culture, he's sometimes absent, even rejected, in the sphere of faith.  Some believe in a Supreme Being, a Creator, and a hereafter, but that's deistic faith, and not yet Christian.
Science/faith dialogue has also put Christ in parentheses.  God the Creator is its object, but Jesus of Nazareth has no place in it.  The same can happen in dialogue with philosophy about metaphysics and interfaith dialogue about peace and ecology but not Jesus.  That's far from from the New Testament meaning of 'faith'; for Paul, saving faith, that justifies sinners and confers the Spirit, is faith in Christ, in the mystery of his death and resurrection.  During Jesus' earthly life, 'faith' came to mean faith in him.  “Your faith has saved you” and “you of little faith” refer to faith in him.  The Jesus of history presupposes faith in himself; his followers had faith in him, if imperfect before Pentecost.  We need to confront Jesus' question, “Who do you say I am?” and the more personal one, “Do you believe with your whole heart?”  “Man believes with the heart and so is justified, and confesses with the lips and so is saved.”  “Faith springs from the root of the heart” (Augustine).  The second moment of this process—profession of faith—has overshadowed the more important first one, in the heart.  Most ancient treatises “On faith” focus on what to believe, not the act of believing.
Who overcomes the world?  We need to recreate the conditions for faith in Christ's divinity, to reproduce the enthusiasm of faith that gave birth to the creed.  It's not enough to recite it; we need to renew and experience the faith that existed when it was formulated.  “Who overcomes the world?  The one who believes Jesus is Son of God!”  Overcoming the world isn't dominating politics and culture.  Jesus told his disciples, “You'll weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.”  The victory is over transience, debility, evil, and death, what 'world' (kosmos) means in its negative sense in the Gospel:  “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Jesus overcame the world by “bringing hostility to an end,” ending what separates people from God and each other, nation from nation; he inaugurated it by the victory of the cross.  “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will...  have the light of life.”  “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.”  'Light' (phos) and 'life' (zoe) have the vowel ω in common and are often written horizontally and vertically to form a monogram of Christ.  We want light and life.  We're called to say humbly, “What you worship as unknown I proclaim to you.”  The Christian has found a place to stand on. “Rain fell, floods came, and winds beat upon the house, but it didn't fall, because it had been founded on rock.
Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!”   What are we doing with our faith in Christ?  What am I doing with my faith?  Jesus says “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see” to help his disciples discover his identity; he couldn't reveal it directly because they weren't ready.  Jesus' words won't pass away; they're for all who hear them with faith, always and everywhere.  It's time to reflect on how fortunate we believers are.  We're blessed, though our faith may expose us to death, "because we see," we understand the meaning of life and death, because we're already part of the kingdom of heaven.  Tell Jesus today, "You have made me happy."
Read
  • Ex 17:3-7  The thirsty people grumbled against Moses, “Why did you make us leave Egypt?”  Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do?”  The Lord answered, “Go in front of them, strike the rock with the staff, and water will flow.”  Moses did.  The place was called Massah and Meribah, because they tested the Lord there.
    Wordle: Readings 3-23-14
  • Ps 95:1-2, 6-9  "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."  Sing to the Lord, our God, who made us; bow down in worship.  Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, where your fathers tested me...
  • Rom 5:1-2, 5-8  We've been justified by faith and have peace with God through Christ.  The Spirit has poured out God's love into our hearts.  God proves his love for us by dying for us while we were still sinners.
  • Jn 4:5-42  Jesus sat down there at Jacob's well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink and tells her he has lifegiving water...  True worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth.  I am the Messiah."  She went to the town and said, “Come see a man who could be the Christ!”  They came.  He told the disciples, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.  The fields are ripe for harvest; others did the work, and you're sharing the fruits.”  Many began to believe.  Samaritans invited him to stay, and he stayed.  Many told the woman, “We've heard for ourselves and know he's the savior.”
Reflect
    • Creighton:  The people's longing for water (1st reading) prepares us to hear of the Samaritan woman’s longing for living water in the gospel. Paul’s "while we were still sinners..." (2nd reading) sets us up for Jesus’ engaging the woman while she was still a sinner.
    Sin, even in good people, can blind us to recognizing our sins.  Was the woman drawing water later than others, in the heat, to avoid the other women's gossip?  David was a man after God’s own heart, but it took Nathan to reveal his adultery and murder to him.  It took Jesus' voice to reveal the woman's sinful situation to her.
    Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well/ Kauffmann
    Gallery of 9 more
    The townspeople who come to Jesus after hearing the woman’s story invited him to stay with them, he stayed two days, and they told her they no longer believe because of her word because they've heard for ourselves... Someone else may have led us to the Lord, but in the end our belief needs to rest on personal experience.  We need the testimony of believers, who know the Lord from more than hearsay.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Drink and tell":  God created us to be physically and spiritually thirsty. We need to drink both ways every day.  Even the hardhearted thirst for living water, whether or not they recognize it.  Once the Samaritan woman drank of Jesus' living water, she had to bring it to others.  It's up to us to give thirsty people a drink of Jesus' living water.  When we drink the water Jesus offers, we'll be so filled that we'll have to evangelize.  "If you thirst, come to Me; if you believe in me, drink; 'From within, rivers of living water shall flow.'"
    • Passionist:  We long for good drinking water; we don't want to be worried about our next glass.  So when Jesus speaks about life-giving water, we want it.  Jesus is the Source of Living Water.  John makes 28 references to truth.  The first is about the Word made Flesh:  “We saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s Only Son, full of grace and truth”; the last is at the Crucifixion.   We must worship God in Spirit and Truth.  We are to profess our faith in truth.  But sometimes it's hard to speak truth.  Jesus caught the Samaritan woman in a lie, and when she took responsibility, she took a step toward accepting the Living Water.  In the gospel, two peoples who had been bitter enemies became friends and shared fellowship; the Samaritans opened their hearts to Jesus and his disciples.  “The Truth will set you free.”
    • DailyScripture.net:  "A spring welling up to eternal life":  Jesus treated Samaritans, enemies of the Jews, with kindness and respect.  Samaritans and Jews had long been divided:  they avoided social contact, trade, and intermarriage.  Jesus stopped at Jacob's well, over 100' deep, tired and thirsty and with neither rope nor bucket.  The Samaritan woman and Jesus were surprised to see each other.  She walked 1½ miles in the heat to fetch water because her townspeople shunned her.  Jesus reached out to her as no respectable Jew would, risking scorn and ritual impurity.  He treated her as a friend, as no strict rabbi would.  His approach would scandalize Jews and Samaritans because she was a public sinner.  Jesus broke through barriers to bring good news to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles; in word and deed he demonstrated the gospel's universality.  God's love and salvation are open to all; only our pride and rebellion can keep us away.
    Jesus spoke of living, running, fresh, pure water.  When the Israelites complained about lack of water, Moses struck the rock, and living water gushed out.  God provided for them even though they didn't trust him.  "Living water" is a symbol of God's lifegiving wisdom; for the Jews it was also a symbol of thirst for God.  The water Jesus spoke of symbolized the Spirit and his work of recreating us and sustaining God's life in us.
    "The water of the Spirit refreshes paradise, enriches earth, gives life.  It's the water of Christ's baptism; it's our life.  If you go with faith to the fountain, you renounce Satan, confess Christ, cease being a slave, become an adopted son, and come forth, radiant with justice, a child of God and co-heir with Christ" (Hippolytus, On the Epiphany, paraphrased).
    "The Spirit restores paradise to us and the way to heaven and adoption as God's children; he instills confidence that we may call God Father and grants us the grace to be children of the light and enjoy glory. He bestows blessings in this world and the next; for we may contemplate now in faith the promised things we'll someday enjoy.  If this is the foretaste, what must the reality be?  If these are the first fruits, what's the harvest?" (Basil, The Holy Spirit, paraphrased)
    Dress legend
    • 'Cow' pin:  "Did you make us leave Egypt to have us die here with our children and livestock?" (1st reading)
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  "Hold in your hand the staff you struck the river with" (1st reading)
    • '?' tie pin:  "Is the Lord in our midst or not?" (1st reading) 
    • 'Rock/stone' tie pin:  "The people will stone me"; the rock Moses struck (1st reading); acclaim the rock of our salvation (psalm)
    • 'Sheep' tie bar:  We're the flock the Lord guides (psalm)
    • 'Treble clef' pin:  Sing to God (psalm)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  We have peace with God through Christ (2nd reading)
    • Crucifix tie pin:  Christ died for the ungodly (2nd reading)
    • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Harden not your hearts (psalm); God's love has been poured out into our hearts... (2nd reading)
    • 'Dove' pin:  ...by the Spirit (2nd reading); God is Spirit (gospel)
    • Blue shirt:  Well water, living water (gospel)
    • Purple tie:  Lenten season
    The Solemnity of St. Joseph is usually celebrated on March 19,
    but since the Sunday celebration trumps it, we'll celebrate him tomorrow.