Clearly, the Gospel [John 4:5-42] reminds us that Jesus is THE life-giving water. Those who drink of HIM will never thirst. Unlike ancestors who ate and drank … and got hungry again and thirsty again —- Jesus offers food and drink that completely satisfies hunger and thirst.
But, before describing how what he offered was different from that which was offered before, he showed how HE HIMSELF was different from teachers or prophets who had come before.
He .. a Jew and a man, spoke with  a Samaritan and a  woman. And , not just “a woman” — but one who had been married five times before and who was now living with another man. A woman — so disdained by the community — that she had to come to the well a midday, when the heat was offensive and when others would not be at the well. To THIS WOMAN, Jesus came … and to THIS WOMAN … Jesus spoke in a kind and humane way.
Jesus ignored the social and religious taboos of his time — he who came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it — dared to speak to someone who the rest of the community could have and would have walked by so easily without giving a second thought.
On this third Sunday of Lent — after facing temptations and having seen a vision of glory that lies beyond Jesus — we are invited to forsake anything that offers only temporary satisfaction — to come to the one who gives life-giving water — water that gives eternal hope and salvation.
HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. [Romans 5:1-8]
With all the science and technology available —- with the resources of more than a dozen nations made available — an airplane seemingly disappeared for more than 11 days….. its whereabouts known only to God during that time. We wondered — God knew. We talked and asked questions — God had the answer all along. When human voices had no answer, people called out to God in silence.
And so — just as Jesus did …. Pope Francis uses words to help us dig deeper into our faith and he uses actions and symbols — he washed the foot of a Muslim woman — he taught that atheists who love and live by love can go to heaven. He asked the question, “who am I to judge?” when quizzed about homosexuals. He carries his own briefcase …. he reminded new Cardinals that they were not getting an honor or a promotion — but rather, a new way to serve. He told them not to bring large entourages to Rome, but rather to give the money to the poor.
Jesus attempted to bring life to a system that denied human dignity and created classes. Pope Francis is trying to change a system that too often repels rather than attracts. We cannot keep doing what we have always done and be NEW EVANGELIZERS.
And so —- when we stand in prayer, when we participate in the Offertory, when we come to communion —- let us see ourselves approaching Jesus who has more to offer than we can imagine. Let us come with open hearts and hands — with minds and spirits bending to his will —– to receive what he has to offer to us. Let us leave worship knowing that we have encountered the living one — and that we go forth renewed, refreshed, stronger — not because of what we have done, but because of what our God has offered to us freely.
And secondly, let’s think of ways in which our community and our Church separates people …. and ways in which we need to be more like Jesus and more like Pope Francis, responding to people in need —- without checking the rule book to know how we should act. It is written in our hearts …. and it lies in our conscience —- for even when there is no law, there is always conscience.
Imagine if we were the Samaritan woman …. and Jesus dared to stop by to visit, to speak, to act like we were important. We can become comfortable when, most often, we are in the majority, or in a favored group. But, imagine, if we lived somewhere where we were the minority — those without privilege or rank or status. Imagine how we would have yearned for someone — anyone —- to spend a little time with us, to show kindness.
Women … the poor … the homeless … the aging … the disabled and handicapped …. Blacks, Hispanics, gay men and women, those divorced and remarried and divorced again …who am I to judge? who am I to label? who am I to segregate? who am I to cause someone to feel like an outcast? who am I to decide who “deserves” communion? who am I to decide who gets buried in the church and who does not?
Who am I — having been given life-giving water — love, acceptance, forgiveness — to choose to deny it to someone else?
The Samaritan woman asked Jesus — How can you … a Jew and a man … and Jesus must have looked at her with love, and in his own way, smiled back with a sense …. and Why would I not?