3rd Week in Lent

Father Stéphane Pouliot
February 28, 2016

Is the Lord among us or not? (Exodus 17:7)

Ouch. This question so clearly displays a lack of grateful remembrance for the Lord’s deliverance that God must be amazed at the hardness of heart of those asking it.

Let us recall that mere weeks before this moment in the wilderness God had abundantly displayed His mighty Mercy for the people of Israel in delivering them after 400 years of Egyptian oppression, sending as many as 10 spectacular plagues to break the arrogance of Pharaoh and going so far as opening a dry path through the Red sea for close to two million men, women and children to pass into freedom.

“Is the Lord among us or not?” Unbelievers and skeptics ask this question and God does not flinch. God demonstrates again and again His steadfast love regardless of the ungratefulness with which we respond to His miracles in our lives.

To those among us who in a moment of doubt question God’s existence (Are you there God?), God’s providence (Why aren’t you doing something God?), and God’s benevolence (Do you really want what is best for me God?), God answers: “I am with you always to the end of the age (Mt 28:20)”.

How does God prove his love for us, we might ask?

“God proves his love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us”, saint Paul told us in today’s Second Reading from the Bible (Romans 5:8).

In other words, God loves us and pursues us with His love steadfastly, constantly, tenderly and unconditionally.

God is determined to save us, if we will let Him. Let us never forget that saint Paul wanted passed on to us the instructions to his disciple saint Timothy that “God our saviour, … desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Every person faces this choice of accepting or rejecting salvation. The Mercy of God knows no other limit than our freedom to accept or refuse to receive it. This freedom is real and in today’s Gospel, the Samaritan woman will exercise it for her good, giving us an example to follow.

When she meets God by the well, he looks very Jewish, very different than the Samaritan culture which she calls her own. She does not know who He is, but He strikes her as odd. That a sinner would find Holiness itself strange is not surprising. As God said through the prophet Ezekiel: “Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it… Again when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life” (Ezekiel 18:25-27).

Jesus is God’s Face, Voice, hands and feet. In Jesus, we feel the Father’s merciful heart. Jesus is thirsty to reveal to us the truth about the Father. Ever since Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan, we have been tempted to distrust the goodness of our Heavenly Father, thereby rejecting the goodness of His commandments and His attempt at rescuing us from our slavery to sin.
But Jesus won’t give up. Even when we do give up hope. The Samaritan woman is no longer waiting for a rescuer. Maybe the fifth marriage did it for her. She has now settled into a temporary and unsatisfying relationship with her current boyfriend.

She is quite shocked when Jesus asks her for a drink. She quizzes Jesus repeatedly and challenges the truth of His statements. How could this stranger be right, she asks herself? How could this holy stranger be interested in my pain? Centuries before, the prophet Ezekiel said it best when, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God chose him to speak on his behalf that He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but (wishes) that the wicked turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Jesus knows that the Samaritan woman wants to live, and be happy, and yet her unsettled and restless life is the result of seeking happiness in a human relationship which she expects to satisfy her completely.

… the one who drinks of the water that I will give, Jesus said, will never be thirsty (John 4:14).

Jesus proposes to each one of us a happiness which comes from being known, loved, forgiven, and made whole by Him. Jesus is quenching our thirst for love with His undeserved and free gift of Mercy. Jesus is not repulsed by our brokenness, and therefore we can admit before Him that we are unable to save ourselves, and in a desperate need of His definitive answer to the problem of our will enslaved by so many cravings.

Jesus approaches us to say: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Let us place before the Lord our past, our failures, the heaviness of our stumbling walk through life, and may we dare to look upon the Consecrated Host and the Chalice of Jesus’ Precious Blood and recognize that we are not too far from God!

Remember the question which started this homily: “Is the Lord among us or not? (Exodus 17:7)” What is the answer?

Yes, the Lord is among us to heal and to save! His name is Jesus! His name is Mercy!

Let us say to Him (tonight or this morning): “Because of you Jesus, I know the Gift of God’s merciful love for me (cf. John 4:10).”