Feb. 24: Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

George Richmond, Christ and the Woman of Samaria, The Tate Gallery, London, 1828

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Exodus 17:3-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Gospel: John 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19-26, 39, 40-42

“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life (NRSV, Jn 4:14b).”

Let us pray.

Father, Water symbolizes chaos and destruction but also life. Your holy people, in telling our story, have always associated water with critical moments in that history. The foundation event which we remember as awakening us to an awareness as your people is identified with the passage through the sea and deliverance from slavery to political freedom. Subsequently the passage through the Jordan would mean freedom from the sinfulness and rebellion that characterized the forty years of wandering in the desert.

Events of earlier times were later remembered as being associated with water. Your creation through your spoken Word, Father, was in the Spirit acting upon the great watery chaos and bringing out of it order and life. When the sinfulness of humanity undid that order and all returned to the watery chaos out of which you had brought it, Father,you guided the good man Noah and his family through the devastation of the flood and gave us a new world.

Despite your ongoing presence in the world through your Word and the constant generous offer of life in the Spirit, humanity continued to succumb to the sin of the world and its own selfish desires. John the Baptist summoned your people, Father, down to the Jordan to pass through it once again to leave their sinful selves in the desert and to accept forgiveness of sin. Jesus, the Word made flesh, began his public ministry by being immersed in the Jordan by John and being anointed by your Holy Spirit.

It is in baptism finally that we who believe identify with Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection, going down to death with him and rising to new life.

In the end, Father, Jesus himself is the true water that springs up to eternal life. It is through the Word that we accept divine life in the Spirit that brings us a share, Father, in everything that you are. May we drink deeply from that well now and in every moment to come.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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