Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Lent

In the past few years I've become a little hard of hearing. It's reached the point that when Linda and I go out to eat, I make sure she sits to the right of me so that I can hear what she says. It's also become difficult to hear clearly if there is a lot of background noise. I find that I have to listen very carefully to understand what is being said. Unfortunately, I often find myself nodding and smiling and completely missing the conversation.

Perhaps some of my problem stems from being a "guy". I think one of the biggest complaints you'll hear from women is that their men never listen, or never hear what they are saying.

But what about our conversations with God? If listening with our ears isn't our strong suit, how are we at listening with our hearts?

As people of faith we are constantly being called to listen to God.

Today's Gospel reading is the familiar story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. It is, I believe, a story of hearing, listening, and being sent.

Jesus arrives at midday, and finds a Samaritan woman there drawing water from the well. It is a time when women would not normally be at the well. Jesus is confronted by two obstacles. Normally a Jewish man would not have spoken to the woman because one, she was a woman, and two, she was a Samaritan.

Jesus, however, does initiate a conversation with the woman, asking her for some water to drink. She responds with not a little bit of sarcasm, asking how it is that a Jew would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink.

Jesus goes on to tell her that if she knew who he was, she would not be giving him a drink, she would, rather, be asking him for a drink of "living water".

She again responds with some sarcasm, but prefaces it with a little bit of respect. "Sir, where will you get this water... are you greater than our father, Jacob"? She is hearing him, but not yet listening to him. While his focus has shifted to himself as the living water of salvation, hers remains on the water in the well.

She next asks for the living water so that she might no longer have to keep returning to the well. She is still focused on physical water. But what happens next finally opens her eyes. Jesus tells her to go and get her husband, to which she replies, "I have no husband." Jesus responds that it is true that she has no husband, that she had FIVE husbands, and the one she was with now was not her husband!

The Samaritan woman now thinks Jesus is a prophet, and ultimately comes to believe that he might even be the Christ, the Messiah who even the Samaritans were aware of. She became compelled to return to her village to spread the news of this man who might be the Christ.

We are, in many ways, like both Jesus and the woman of this story. A Jewish man would normally not have spoken to a Samaritan woman because 1)she was a woman, and 2)she was a Samaritan. Jesus, however, transcended those barriers and initiated the conversation with the woman. His message of salvation will go beyond the Jews, and be extended to all God's people, Gentile and even Samaritan!

Through our baptism we are united with Jesus as brothers and sisters. We are called, therefore, to carry God's love to ALL our neighbors regardless of race, color, religion or social status.

Like the Samaritan woman we all gather around our own particular "wells" in our lives. God is there, speaking to us, inviting us to be ever closer to him. Do we hear him? Do we, like the Samaritan woman ask if He is greater than our gods? Greater even than the god of Power, or Wealth, or Video Games, or other pleasures? When we lose our focus on God because we are focusing on these other things, we are saying, in effect, that God is NOT as great, that He doesn't deserve our attention, our love. We have put God on the back burner. We don't hear, and can't listen.

We're now halfway through Lent, and still have halfway to go. Lent is a gift from God. A time when we can get some quiet time in our lives, time to hear God if we listen carefully enough. God speaks not only to our mind and ear, but to our heart, and it is our heart to which we should be listening. What is God saying to us? What is He asking of us? How will we respond?

These next three weeks are an opportunity for us to hear, to listen and to respond to God. We can make a conscious effort to be aware of others, and to not be judgmental. We can make a conscious effort to put God FIRST in our lives, to understand that through loving God and doing His will we will find the "living water" that promises ETERNAL happiness, not the fleeting happiness that our fixation with immediate self-gratification provides.

As we approach the altar preparing to receive our Lord's REAL body and REAL blood we should recall the words that we spoke, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." It is true. We are NOT worthy,and never will be! But all God asks is that we listen, and we try to do better.

God speaks to us always, and everywhere. He speaks to us in the sound of the birds singing, and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. He speaks to us in the love of a parent for a child, and the love of family and friends. He speaks to us when we are faced with opportunities to serve our church family. He speaks to us in the homeless man or woman who we will encounter on the streets this week. And He speaks to us in His gift of His Son in the Eucharist!

Do we hear Him? Are we Listening to Him? Will we Respond to Him?

God Bless!!


Blogger Patti said...

Okay, let me just say this: First of all, very good homily. I can see where some of it applies directly to my life. Secondly, I may not be able to hear what God is saying, but now, thanks to the reading, I'll be able to hear the soundtrack! (PP&M, Jesus met the woman at the well. Love that song!)

February 27, 2008 at 8:43 AM  

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