The Third Sunday of Lent

In the Gospel story this week we see three points that come to light. Our closeness to God transforms us rather than any effort of our own; a growing understanding of the Word of God will help us to change; and a listening heart will lead to an active love of one another.

 

The story of the meeting of the Samaritan woman and Jesus at the well is very significant.  In scripture a well was an essential part of desert living.  It signified life and refreshment in fact like all symbols it supplies endless material for reflection.  In the ancient scriptures some important marriages began at a well.  Moses met Zipporah at a well.  A bride was found for Isaac at a well.  Jacob first saw his beloved, Rachel, as she brought her flocks to be watered.

 

Jesus goes to the well and is seeking someone with whom he can share God’s vision.  The vision of a world longing to reach its potential, a world that recognizes that such a vision can be realized through responding to the graciousness of God.

 

As Jesus and the woman converse their relationship changes. They cease to be strangers. The Samaritan woman comes to the well without a flock but leaves as shepherd of the kingdom.

 

The women of the Jewish stories found love and a partner with whom to begin a family. The Samaritan woman finds a new way of loving and the ability to be a spiritual mother and founder of a Christian community.

 

Jesus promises the woman the water of life. This water is the grace of God which fills her so completely that she too can become a fountain overflowing and bringing life to others. By embracing the Word, she becomes an evangelist, a bearer of Good News to her kinsfolk.  Later they were able to tell her that they had become disciples.

 

St. Paul, who was also a bearer of Good News, compares the love of God to water poured out upon us.  As we sweat in the hot sun and watch the land crack, the grass wither, the image of rain covering the land is a powerful reminder of the renewing power of God’s love. God’s love as Paul says, is freely given to all.

 

The gift of Jesus’ fidelity to his mission is expressed through the virtue of endurance.  This is in total contrast to the complaints of those brought out of Egypt by Moses.  Instead of trusting the God who had freed them from slavery they complained about the lack of water and the discomforts of travel.

 

Even the gift of water from the rock did not soften the hardness of their hearts.  Paul says that the virtue of hope is the gift that, through Christ, keeps us going.

 

When people come to us seeking hope, let us be generous with the well of living water that we have received.

 

Lenten Blessings,

 

Deacon Wally Mitsui 

Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s readings asks us to remain faithful (like Abraham), to have courage (don’t be afraid) and to listen (listen to God’s Son). God’s command to listen to His beloved Son is also a command to change. Listening requires that we encounter Jesus, come to know who he is, and allow ourselves to be changed. Throughout our lives we have experienced change in many different ways. When we heard the words “I love you” for the first time, when we heard our first son or daughter calling us “Mama” or “Dada” for the first time, when we heard an inspiring musical piece for the first time... all those moments changed us! How we miss these moments if we do not stop long enough to really listen! What we hear can change us; but we need to change in order to hear. Are we ready to change? Are we ready to be transfigured? Lent is meant to be our time of transfiguration. We are transfigured – we are changed – when we take the time to listen to what God is saying to us through Jesus. In this second Sunday of Lent we are challenged to be transfigured like Christ. As we transfigure ourselves we need to remember that each of us shares in the divine life of Jesus. We are made in the image of God. No matter how rough, how unpolished, or how ordinary we may be... we, like Jesus, have divinity within us. So, we are called to act like Jesus did: when we reach out to others who are in need; when we forgive; visit a lonely, elderly person; or listen to a troubled teenager; or when we bite our tongue instead of saying sharp words. When we do these things, we ourselves experience a kind of transfiguration. We need to remember that our journey of faith involves struggle. During times of hardship, rather than despair, we are called as good Christian stewards to keep our faith and hope in the Lord and to give thanks for His blessings. Jesus speaks to us in our encounters and struggles with each other, in the ordinary events of every day, in our quiet times of prayer and reflection. But we cannot hear what he is saying to us if our lives are so frantic, so noisy, and so distracted that we never encounter him. In today’s Gospel, Peter, James, and John have a “mountain top” experience at Jesus’ transfiguration. God asks them to “Listen to Him.” As Christian stewards we are also called to listen to Jesus and His teachings. Finally, Richard Rohr has said, Suffering is ...the most efficient means of transformation, and God makes full use of it whenever God can.” The way of the cross does involve suffering, and as we transform to be like Christ, we will experience some of that suffering. We need to accept it and pray that our suffering here will earn us rewards later in heaven.

 

Lenten Blessings,

Deacon Modesto Cordero

First Sunday in Lent

Following the evil caused by sin, God can renew mankind, promise them only good things and assure them of his blessings. Notice he promises without asking his counterpart Noah anything. His blessings are unconditional, with no strings attached. The reason is that his love is absolutely gratuitous. God does not wait for people to be good before being generous with them. Though he sees that people are sinners, he loves them all the same and his love transforms us into new creatures.

 

As we celebrate the first Sunday of Lent, we are reminded that the culmination of these forty days is not Good Friday, it’s Easter. Yes, God asks us to die to ourselves to resist temptation. But he is asking this so that we can clear out more space in our hearts for him and for his grace. The discipline and self-sacrifice we take up during Lent are not the ends in themselves. We take them on so that we can become more fully alive in Christ, more able to reveal his love to the people around us.

 

Today Jesus invites us all to choose a change in lifestyle. It is not imposed, but failure to accept it will have disastrous consequences. “Repentance,” metanoia, is a change of mind and heart, a lifelong process of transformation. Jesus is not asking for the temporary foregoing of something pleasurable, like giving up sweets for Lent. The metanoia to which Jesus invites us is both a turning away from whatever inhibits the full flourishing of the divine intent for creation and a turning toward him the source of divine love.

 

There is no better time to begin turning than now. This is the opportune time, the right time. Every moment is the right time because God wants to intervene; hence we need to make precise choices in order to live the right manner of life. Aware of the cost of the gospel message, one must opt to embrace it whole heartedly and be prepared for the consequences it entails. This is our baptismal mission and we have to accept it despite its demands. We must examine ourselves and ask how well we have aligned ourselves to Christ.

 

God gives tangible reminders of his committed love and his desire to be present to us. How do we act as tangible reminders of God’s love, especially to those who are most in need? Am I committed to myself, my God and my neighbor? How Do I show this trust and commitment? During this Lent keep your eyes on the prize: new life in Christ. It’s a life that springs up from every kind of death to self you embrace. It’s a life that will lead you to the final prize: eternal life with Jesus. Lent is a time of reconciliation, renewal and repentance through prayer, refraining from evil & fasting. Let each one of us ask what is hindering me from sacrificing & loving more fully. Find a way to give up what obstructs you from loving others as God loves and expects you and I to love. Try to find out life-giving substitutes for those obstructions.

 

 

Fr. Boniface Waema, Parochial Vicar