Third Sunday in Lent

Third Sunday of Lent Year A

Fr. Francesco Msofu

A few months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites were convinced that God was with them. At that time everything seemed to be going well, however, things started to change when they encountered problems; lack of food, lack of water, presence of snakes, etc. These caused them to start doubting the presence of God. They immediately forgot what God had done for them. They started to blame Moses and grumble that it would have been better for them to have stayed in Egypt as slaves.  The word grumbling, or murmuring, comes from a Hebrew word “tehunna.”  It is an act of disobedience, disbelief or rebellion against an authority. For the Israelites it was rebellion against God.

There are several events that show how they grumbled against Moses.  At the bank of the Red Sea, they started to do so saying that he had brought them out of Egypt so that they would die in the wilderness (Ex. 14: 11-12).  After that, they grumbled against Moses about the lack of water (Ex. 15: 24); then they grumbled against Moses about the lack of food. They even went as far as saying that it would have been better for them to have stayed in Egypt as slaves, because there, they had plenty of food (Ex. 16: 2-3).

Another incident in which the Israelites grumbled against Moses is found in today’s first reading. It recounts that the Israelites went as far as to falsely accuse Moses of taking them out from Egypt so that they would die in the desert. As the reading states, they seemed ready to stone him to death if he would not provide them with some water. Moses, trusting in God, asked Him for a solution: “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” Immediately, God replied and gave Moses some instructions assuring him of His presence: “I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb.”  Horeb was a location that Moses knew well. It was there that he had encountered a burning bush and where God had called him for a specific mission (Ex. 3: 1- 6.)  Despite all that God had done for the Israelites, including their (miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, their provision of manna and quail, and also of water), yet the Israelites did not trust God’s power and presence.

Today’s second reading highlights that it is because of Jesus Christ that we have peace with God. God has reconciled the world through His Son Jesus Christ. Paul says that the love of God also has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. Sometimes, when we face challenges in life, we think that God has abandoned us. Like the Israelites, we start doubting His presence and His power.  We should bear in our mind that it was God who first loved us.  This is why, through His Initiative, He sent us His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and save us while we were still sinners (Rom 5: 8). God never leaves us uncared for.  He loves us as just as we are. He hates sin, but He loves the sinners.  He does not encourage us to commit sin nor to remain in sin, but wishes that those who are ready to approach Him to ask for forgiveness to do so.

Today’s Gospel echoes the first reading, which states that God is the Provider, the Source of whatever we need in our lives. The Gospel recounts Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman at the well where he asks her for some water to drink. He then promises to give her “living water.”   As she was a prostitute who was not faithful to her marriage, she represents the Israelites who had turned away from God, due to their sins, but who needed to turn back to God.

The living water promised by Jesus Christ is the Spirit of God; the love of God that fills our hearts; per second reading. Each and every one of us is invited to be guided by the Spirit of God; who will fill our soul with His love. This is why the woman left her water jug, because she had discovered the true “living water” that totally had quenched her thirst. Therefore, she rushed to the village to tell other people about Jesus. The result was that many people came to Jesus because they too were thirsty; thirsty to know God. When they met Jesus, they said: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

In our Life

  1. Sometimes, in our lives, when we face challenges, like the Israelites did, we forget the blessings God has granted us and we end up grumbling. God, however, loves us. He knows exactly what we need, how much we need and when we need it. Hence, whenever we face challenges, we should do as Moses did; that is, to ask God to help us to solve our problems.
  2. We need to reflect on God’s love for each one of us. The liberation of the Israelites was through God’s initiative. Our liberation also is through God’s initiative. It is through His love that we are saved. What should we do?  Let us keep on loving and trusting in Him knowing that He will always provide whatever we need.
  3. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us new water, the Spirit of God. Let us be obedient to God’s voice in our lives.
  4. Especially during this Lenten season, let us come to the well and meet Jesus. He will give us water that will quench our thirst.
  5. Like the Samaritan woman, we need to reflect on our life and tell Jesus all about it.
  6. We also, like the Samaritan woman, need to share the Good News about Jesus with others.