Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
My homily given at the English Masses at Holy Ghost Church on Sunday, March 19, 2017.
Grumbling or Gratitude?
EX 17:3-7; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; ROM 5:1-2, 5-8; JN 4:5-42
Today’s first reading reminds me how often we focus on our current problems and get discouraged, rather than remembering all the ways God has shown us that he is with us and how much he loves us.
In spite of the many miracles God performed for the Israelites as he led them from slavey to the promised land, the Israelites continued to grumble about their situation. They were thirsty and had no water, so it’s understandable that they were not happy. Life was very difficult in the desert. Moses asked God to provide water for his people and he answered with a miracle. God instructed Moses to strike a rock with his staff. When he did, water began to flow out of that rock.
We’re told that the Israelites were guilty of testing the Lord. Why? Because they were questioning if God was really with them on this journey, whether or not he really cared about them.
Think about this! They questioned whether or not God was with them after he had already revealed himself by parting the Red Sea, drowning their enemies, turning bitter water sweet, sending them bread from heaven, and sending them quail for meat! In today’s reading he further demonstrates his presence and his care for them by making water flow from a rock!
Yet, as we heard in today’s psalm, in spite of all these miracles and God giving them what they needed, when they needed it, the Israelites still hardened their hearts.
It seems as though we have a tendency to be like the Israelites when it comes to our relationship with God. We can so easily forget the many blessings he’s given us when hardship enters our lives. We ask “why me Lord” and we often expect him to remove this hardship from our lives, right now. If he doesn’t, we’re tempted to believe that God doesn’t love us. We forget that it is through our crosses, our hardships, that we experience Jesus most deeply, most intimately. For it was through HIS cross that he delivered us from death and opened the path to eternal life. It was through his cross that he proved how much he loves us.
In today’s gospel reading we learn about an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus broke all the rules by talking to this woman at the well.
She was a Samaritan, and good Jews simply didn’t talk to Samaritans. She was a woman and men at that time didn’t enter into public conversation with strange women. She was also known by her townspeople to be living a lifestyle that was scandalous. So much so that she had to retrieve water in the heat of the day. She was not welcome to join the other women who came to the well early in the morning to retrieve their water.
Unlike the Israelites in the first reading who continued to grumble in their hardships in spite of having experienced so many amazing miracles, we see this Samaritan woman come around to an enthusiastic belief that Jesus was truly the Messiah by simply having a short conversation with him.
Jesus undoubtedly helped her to understand that he loved her not for what she had or had not done, but for who she was. She became so transformed by this encounter that she immediately ran into town to tell everyone about this man that knew everything about her. She was a new person after having encountered the love of God, and the townspeople recognized that she had an authentic conversion. So much so that many of the Samaritans in that town also came to believe that Jesus was truly the Messiah.
Are as excited about our encounters with Jesus as this Samaritan woman was? Are we able to see God working in our lives, even when we are experiencing difficulty and bearing a heavy cross?
Today’s readings are teaching us that we must not be like the Israelites who ask God what he’s done for us lately, putting him to the test to prove to us that he truly cares about us. No, as St. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading, God proved his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. This should be all the proof we need that he loves us.
Rather than being forgetful of or ungrateful for all God has done for us, we must be like the Samaritan woman and her fellow townspeople who were so very grateful that Jesus came into their lives that day, offering them his living water. We must spend time with Jesus in prayer and ask him to teach us more and more about the divine life he has promised us. We must humbly ask him to give us his living water.
Let me suggest a practical way you can better recognize and become more grateful for everything God is doing for you. For the remainder of Lent I challenge you to start every day with a prayer of gratitude, offering the day to God before you do anything else. Do it before you have your coffee or take your shower. This just might mean that you have to get out of bed 5 or 10 minutes earlier. If so, do it … it’s that important.
I’m going to ask you now to pray with me the prayer I pray each morning. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit, but the important thing is that you offer God yourself and your gratitude the FIRST THING every day. Please join me now in prayer.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
It is so wonderful to be here with you. I adore you and love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me and for having promised me eternal life in your beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you for having preserved me during the past night. I thank you for this new day and that I am alive to experience your love through everything that comes my way.
Forgive me this day for anything I do, say or think that is not pleasing to you. I ask now for your forgiveness. I thank you for being so patient with me and for always being willing to forgive me when I am truly sorry for having offended you. Help me to be aware today of anything I do that offends you.
Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Please help me not to complain about those things I have no control over.
Give me a constant attitude of prayer so that I might offer everything I do and say to the glory of your name. You’ve created us to live with you for eternity as members of Christ’s body. Let me never forget this.
You’ve done so much for me and you continue to bless me with the gift of life. I pray that you will use me today to do your will so that I might always reflect your love and be a blessing to others. Amen.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Make it a habit to take a few minutes to renew your gratitude for God’s love for you every morning with a prayer similar to the one we just prayed together. Never take him for granted and never put him to the test.
When you are grateful you will be joyful, even in the most difficult circumstances of your day. Know that God is always with you and let this knowledge give you peace, encouragement and hope. Like the Samaritan woman, be confident in your faith and share it enthusiastically with others. God will certainly bless you for this and you will have even more to be grateful for tomorrow.
God bless you.