Third Sunday of Lent
José H. Gomez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
sisters and brothers in Christ:
"If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a
drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water"
St. Jn. 4, 10.
Today's readings, which are the ones that are part of the RCIA program,
bring to us the image of water as a source of life. Both in the human
and the spiritual life, water is an indispensable element to stay alive
and to be healthy. Water is essential for human life, and the water that
can satisfy our spiritual thirst is the grace of God.
It is a very appropriate image for today's Holy Mass because starting
today, and in the coming weeks, those individuals attending our RCIA program
will go through a time of more intense formation as they prepare themselves
to start a new life. A life of grace in the Catholic Church to the service
of God and others.
This week the Profession of Faith, the Creed, will be presented to you
for your consideration and meditation as a summary of our Catholic Faith.
So, as you receive it and recite it you will know the contents of your
The account of Moses and the Israelites in today's first reading, through
the need for water, gives us a better understanding of the trials and
joys of their long, hard journey toward a deeper relationship with God.
The people needed God and each other, only sometimes they forgot it. Their
physical thirst is an image of the thirst for God and as they receive
the gift of water they feel the company of God in their lives.
"In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against
Moses, saying. 'Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have
us die here of thirst with our children and livestock? …" Ex. 17,
It was difficult for them to understand the hardships of their journey,
as sometimes it is difficult for us to understand the ups and downs of
our own life. These days it is hard to see the horror of war or the dangers
Today we especially pray for world peace, for the safety of the men and
women in our armed forces and the people of Iraq, and for God's guidance
for our national leaders.
In the midst of these situations we have to be more aware of God's presence
amongst us. For all of us, but especially for you going through the RCIA
program, this is a very important issue because God is always with us
and amongst us. Never forget that God is with you always.
As we can see in today's first reading: "The Lord answered Moses,
'Go over there in front of the people …strike the rock, and the water
will flow from it for the people to drink" Ex. 17, 3-7.
If we are always aware of the presence of God in our lives, then we feel
the need to have a personal relationship with Him.
A relationship with God that is not one-sided, it is not only us looking
for Him. The reality is that the one looking for us is God! He created
us in His image and likeness and He is always looking for us! As a matter
of fact, in loving God we are corresponding to His love for us.
In the second reading of today's Mass, St. Paul reminds us that "God
proves his love for us in, that while we were still sinners, Christ died
for us". And that the love of God has been "poured out into
our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" Rom.
5, 1-2, 5-8.
Our challenge as Catholics is how to develop that personal relationship
with God. It should be our personal goal in life and it takes our personal
effort and, most importantly, the grace of God acting in our lives:
"the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling
up to eternal life", Jesus says in today's Gospel.
The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, today's passage of
the Gospel is like an outline of how to start and develop that relationship
Jesus is on his way to Galilee and has stopped at a small Samaritan town.
He is tired from his travels and stops to rest and get water to continue
on the way. What appears to be an ordinary event turns into a divine revelation.
The Samaritan woman, a sinner, recognizes Jesus as a prophet and Jesus
reveals himself to her as the Messiah: "I who speak to you am he"
St. Jn. 4, 26.
brings about an amazing change in this woman. Now her whole thinking centers
around Jesus; she forgets what brought her to the well; she leaves her
pitcher behind her and goes off to the town to tell people about her discovery"
The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, p. 555.
This is also what happens to each one of us in Christian life. We have
had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and he wants us to have faith
in him and to share our discovery with other people.
It is beautiful to see how Jesus starts the dialogue, he uses a normal
thing, his thirst to talk to her, something that she can understand and
be open to, "Give me a drink". Then he takes the conversation
to more important issues and finally asked her to have a conversion, to
change her ways and believe in the Gospel.
Her participation in the dialogue is also very interesting and helpful
for us in our dialogue with God. "The Samaritan woman's reply starts
the dialogue and shows how well she is responding to the action of grace
in her soul: her readiness to talk to Christ, who was a Jew, is the first
stage in her change of heart.
Later by taking a real interest in what Christ is saying, she opens up
further to God's influence. Her religious feelings begin to come back,
she talks about 'our Father Jacob' v. 12.
Then Jesus challenges her asking about her life situation and she replies
truthfully, 'I have no husband' v. 17; and, seeing that Jesus has broken
through the intimacy of her conscience, she makes and act of faith: 'I
perceive that you are a prophet' v. 19" Cf. Navarre Bible, St. John,
As I mentioned earlier, this could be an outline for us on how to relate
to God. Let's ask ourselves today if there is readiness in talking to
Christ, if there is real interest in what Christ is saying. If we are
truthfully talking to God and then our faith will be real and strong.
Finally, "the woman left her water jar and went into the town and
said to the people, 'Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ. They went out of the town and came to
him" St. Jn. 4, 29-30.
we are aware of the presence of God in our lives, if we feel the love
of God for us and, if there is an ongoing dialogue with Christ, then we
will be enthusiastic about our faith. The normal thing for us will be
to talk to people about the happiness of having God in our lives. The
evangelizing mission of the Church will be a reality in our lives.
We will share this wonderful gift that we have with other people. "All
faithful are called to take part in the work of evangelization: 'Since
Christians have different gifts they should collaborate in the work of
the Gospel, each according to his own opportunity, ability, charism (gifts)
and ministry…'" Vatican II, Ad gentes, 28 in Navarre Bible, Gospels
and Acts, p. 555.
Let's keep in mind Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew
the gift of God, and who is it that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink',
perhaps you might have asked him and he would have given you living water".
The gift of God is the Holy Spirit and the living water is the grace of
God. For all of us, this Lenten season is a time to change our hearts,
listen to God and rise when we stumble in our lives. It is a time to open
our hearts to the Gift of God, the Holy Spirit, and to look for the living
water, the grace of God, that comes to us through the Sacraments.
Let's ask Mary, our Blessed Mother for her intercession that today we
may renew our faith, hope and love and start, or continue this ongoing
dialogue with Christ that will take us to the knowledge and love of the
Blessed Trinity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.