Thursday, March 24, 2011

Leaving behind our baggages

Third Sunday of Lent Year A

Today’s readings and the readings for the next two weeks are taken from Year A Cycle as it is closely tied to the Scrutinies of the candidates for baptism which will be celebrated shortly afterwards.

In today’s gospel story, we come to meet, know and understand Jesus better through the eyes of the Samaritan woman. What is so radical about this story was that Jesus broke through all the social, religious and political taboos that segregated Samaritans and women in the disclosing the mystery of his person. She gives a positive response and comes gradually to discover who he is and she not only comes to faith in him but also shares this faith with other Samaritans who, in turn, come to accept him and his message. Thus, the Samaritan woman becomes a model for our candidates for baptism as well as each of us.

The Samaritan woman is thrice marginalized. First, she is a Samaritan and Jews do not have any interaction at all with the Samaritans who were considered unclean. Secondly, she is a woman. Any good pious Jew would not stop to have a faith discussion with a woman, Jewish or Samaritan, as women were thought to be created only for the sole purposes of motherhood and wife. Thirdly, our Samaritan woman had a questionable background. Even among the women and Samaritans of her town, her own people, she was considered a sinner. She has been with several men and the present man whom she is living with is not her husband. So she comes to the well alone at noon to avoid the crowd of women who usually come to the well during the cool morning.

In spite of all these barriers, Jesus engages in a conversation with her and draws her into a faith relationship with himself. He announces to her that he is the “Living water” that promises eternal life to whoever who drinks from it.

Each of us may have our own problems and difficulties. We may suffer from loneliness or grief over the death of a loved one. Some of us are angry with some members of this parish or even with the Church. We come with our worries about the future, about our work, about our family. Jesus comes to each of us as he comes to the Samaritan woman. Jesus never forces his way into our life but allows us to invite him in one step at a time. But only if we allow him to enter our lives can we begin to find healing because he is the living water – he is the bread of life – he is the only one who will continue to love us and forgive us even if we are sinners and don’t deserve to be loved.

At the end of the gospel story, the Samaritan leaves the water jug behind. She doesn’t need it anymore because she has found the true water of life. As we have come to discover Jesus, let us too leave behind our other securities, our fears and our worries as we prepare to receive Christ who gives himself to us in his body and blood.