14th / 15th March 2020

posted 16 Mar 2020, 04:49 by Parish Office

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year A (14 & 15/3/20)


The thirst for living water:  we all desire to love and to be loved.  St Theresa of Calcutta said that the great evil of our age is the lack of love and charity, the great indifference towards one’s neighbour.  In some ways, nothing has changed since Our Lord’s time.  The woman at the well is a good example of what can happen when things go wrong.


Clearly, the woman at the well was something of a broken character.  In the full version of the Gospel text, Jesus reveals that she has had five husbands, and the man she is with now is not her husband.  Whether this was through being widowed or divorced or a combination of the two we don’t know.  But whatever the exact situation, it is bound to have broken her in some way.  And there is a further point:  she comes to draw water at the sixth hour, which is midday, the hottest time of the day, the time when only “mad dogs and Englishmen” are about.  Everyone else stays indoors because it is too hot.  She is trying to avoid other people’s company.  Clearly she has been looking for love, but things have gone wrong in her life, and for whatever reason, she is now living with someone who is not her husband, which wouldn’t have given her a good reputation in the town.


So she meets Jesus. 


Unclean meets clean.  Someone in need of sanctification meets the One who is sanctification itself.  A woman in need of salvation meets Salvation in person.  Perhaps she didn’t entirely see it that way, at least initially.  But that encounter changes her life.  She finds what her heart really desires.  She encounters healing – as a result she now goes out to tell others about Him, forgetting her fear.  They then are led to Him as well.


At the moment, all across the world, various people are preparing to become Catholics at the Easter Vigil.  Some are preparing in our deanery.  They will all have been led to the Church by different routes.  Some more earth-shattering, others more ordinary.  There may be all sorts of reasons and motives.  But just like the woman at the well, they encounter the person of Christ, in their preparation and prayer.  He is the One who changes their lives – and it’s not for us and our personality to get in the way.


When I was training for the priesthood, one of the Church documents we had to look at was Pastores Dabo Vobis, produced by Pope St John Paul II, regarding the formation of future priests.  One of the phrases that struck me as both true and also slightly humorous was the following, where it said that candidates for the priesthood should mould their personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge, and not an obstacle, to others in their meeting with Jesus Christ.  It’s important advice for future priests, and also for any other Catholics as well.  Is our parish a place that welcomes newcomers to the faith?  Do we say hello to them and help them to feel at home in the parish, or do we ignore them?  Is our personality a bridge to Christ, or an obstacle?  Because Christ is the One they need to meet.  He is the One who transforms lives.


Do we need that encounter ourselves?  You bet we do!  I’m not saying that as a criticism (“dear me, look at you all, we’re in a right mess here etc. etc.”).  No, what I mean is that if we are to radiate Christ to others, we had better make sure that we haven’t put Him in a corner of our lives and left Him on His own.  When we meet Christ, it shouldn’t be a one-off occasion.  It should be a regular meeting, where we keep on coming back for more.  He is our God and the Lord of our life.


We all desire to love and to be loved.  Let’s turn to God, who is Love Itself, and our hearts will be fulfilled.