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We hear in the Gospel that Jesus was tired, hungry and thirsty from his journey and sat down to rest and asked a woman for something to drink. Jesus felt all the weariness that we feel at times in our life. In our 40 day journey of Lent we are into our third week of taking more time to pray, spending less time and money eating, and giving that extra time and money to works of charity and helping the poor. These sacrifices that we have promised to God are not easy to do and we might get weary from doing them. But we are blessed with some breaks here and there. When there is a Solemnity, which is the highest feast day in the Church, we can take a break from sacrificing to celebrate. This past Wednesday was the Solemnity of St. Joseph and a few of you were here to celebrate at Mass and then afterwards enjoy some cookies and ice cream. This coming Tuesday March 25th there is another Solemnity which marks nine months before Christmas. It is the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we won’t have a Mass here because I’m driving down to Florida for a day to celebrate my Grandmother’s 95th birthday! But I encourage you to go to Mass either in Rome, Dallas, or Carrolton, pray the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, and take a break from Lent for a day! And on the last day of Lent this year which is Wednesday April 16 we will celebrate St. Bernadette’s birth into Heaven. Our new auxiliary bishop David Talley will come celebrate a Mass for us in the church along with several former pastors of our parish (including Fr. Duvan) and then after Mass we will go/come here to the prayer hall for a dinner. So if Jesus needed to take a break from time to time, it is o.k. if we do also, if it’s for a good cause. St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Bernadette are good causes.

In his journey, Jesus took a break in Samaria because he was tired, but he does not take a break from his greater work of evangelization. Even as he is resting he is working to win someone’s heart. His body thirsts for something to drink but even more his spirit thirsts for the Samaritan woman’s soul. But the conversation that occurs is very unusual because usually Jews and Samaritans did not speak. Samaritans were like half Jewish because they had mixed with pagan people. They still had some religious belief and practices, very similar to people today who say they are religious or believe in God but really don’t understand much, or like those who say they are Christian but don’t keep the Commandments, don’t go to worship God on the Lord’s Day or live in relationships without getting married in the Church. And we all know Catholic family members who celebrate their faith maybe twice a year at only at Christmas and Easter. But these are exactly the type of people Jesus thirsts for. They are the ones he wants to find and spend time with so to share with them the good news of repentance and salvation, like he does with the woman at the well.

We hear that the woman came to the well carrying a bucket to get water, but Jesus says to her: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Imagine how attractive that must have been to the woman. He is speaking to a greater thirst that she has. But what is this water that Jesus is talking about to quench her thirst forever? It is grace. A share in his divine life. As practicing Catholics we understand that we get this grace from the Sacraments. Through the Sacraments, the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul said in the second reading. At Baptism water is poured over our bodies and at the same moment grace from the Divine Well of the Holy Spirit is poured into our souls filling them with the love of God.

Everybody desires this love, but many don’t understand where to get it and so they seek it in other wells, in other things and begin to, in a way, thirst for them to the point forming addictions. These can be big or small: Addictions to fun, pleasure, fashion, money, food, lust, in order to fill a deeper desire within us. But these addictions prevent us from fully worshipping God. Now, the Samaritan woman would not have known this so Jesus speaks to her deeper thirst in a language she can understand. He first attracts her with the promise of eternal life. And it works because the woman says, “Sir, give me this water so that I may not be thirsty.” We see that she begins to trust Jesus, she begins to be attracted to his words.

But the next thing that Jesus does doesn’t seem very nice. He reveals to her her sins, her false love. Her addictions that prevent her from worshiping God in spirit and truth. She has been with five different men and is currently cohabitating with another. She was thirsting for love and purpose but would try to get it by going from one relationship to the next. But Jesus reveals this to her not out of rejection but out of love and mercy. He does this not to shame her but to save her, to remove the obstacle that prevented her soul from receiving his grace. She has to see her addiction to false love before she can receive the fulfillment of true love. And it is the same for all of us. We all have our addictions: T.V., pornography, pride, greed, laziness, gossip. We all have those sins that we return to over and over again to fill us, but they always leave us empty. And so that is why we have to use them more and more, but we are less and less satisfied. And so out of love Jesus wants to help us to see them and to admit to them. That way we can receive his grace which is the only thing that can fill our deepest thirst. His grace removes our sins, takes away our burden of shame, gives us peace and joy so that we may worship God in spirit and truth. That’s what we want achieve in Lent.

After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman returns joyfully to tell others that she met the Messiah, the Savior of the World, but first she leaves her water jar at the well which means she laid her burden down, all her empty addictions, those poor lifestyle choices that always left her thirsty. For the first time in her life she found true love. What addictions to you have? This Lent Jesus is asking you to lay them down so that he can give you what you truly desire. The encounter at the well between the Samaritan Woman and Jesus is a symbol of what happens for us when we encounter Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In confession we speak directly to Christ through the person of the priest. If more people believed this I think more people would go. Yes, in the presence of Jesus we have to confront and admit to the sin which puts a wall between us and God. If we don’t he cannot pour out his love into our hearts. But if we admit everything, we can encounter Christ the savior who forgives us and fills us with his grace. In this, our promise of eternal life is renewed. And through the grace of Christ we can form new healthy addictions: To Prayer, to worshiping God in spirit and truth at Mass, to reading his word in the Bible. We become a testimony to others about our relationship to Jesus Christ.

This is all possible because of Christ’s merciful love for us. Jesus said to the women at the well: “Give me something to drink.” Remember one of the last things that Jesus said on the Cross: “I thirst.” He thirsts for our souls. And so we can quench his thirst by trusting in him and allowing our hearts to be filled with what he died to give us, the grace he pours out from his heart in order to fill ours. Do you thirst for this grace? We heard in the first reading how Moses used his staff to strike the rock of Horeb and water flowed from it for the people to drink. On the Cross, the heart of Jesus was struck and water and blood flowed out to quench our thirst, our thirst for meaning, for love, for eternal life. In her vision of the Divine Mercy of Jesus, St. Faustina said that the water and blood that flowed from the Heart of Jesus are the sacraments of love and mercy - Baptism and the Eucharist. Jesus is the Divine Well of love and mercy that will never leave us thirsty. On the Second Sunday of Easter we will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and focus on this great mystery of God’s grace. It will also be the day John Paul II, the Pope of Mercy, and John 23rd, the pope who was inspired to open the Second Vatican Council, will be canonized as saints. May this Lent help us to learn how to stop drinking from the well of sinful desires in order to ask Jesus to give us the gift of living water which flows from the well of his divine love and mercy. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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