March 7, 2021 at St. William Church in Naples, FL
Exodus 17, 3-7 + Psalm 95 + Romans 5, 1-2, 5-8 + John 4, 5-42
The people are weary; they have been on the march for a long time, they are fatigued and have nothing, they have no sense of unity, no organization. They forget their past slavery in Egypt, and do not remember the Lord’s constant are for them. They grow angry and complain. They cry out “Give us water to drink.”
We tell their story today to open our minds and hearts to hear this Gospel when Jesus himself, fatigued and thirsty finds himself at well in the heat of mid-day in enemy territory. He has no bucket. His companions have gone off in search of something to eat. Then she comes. Probably not for the first time that day. She comes with her bucket at noon. It’s hot, and rather than come in the cool of the evening or early morning, she comes at mid-day when no one else is there to avoid the stares and whispering about her that is constant among the people of that place. She is sinner. She is laughed at and scorned.
Two conversations are provided in this Gospel. The first with the woman concerns thirst and water. The second with the apostles concerns hunger and food. In that first conversation, Jesus makes it clear what it means to be thirsty as he reverses roles with that woman. In his presence, the one with a bucket becomes thirsty, and the one who came thirsty gives her a drink. She leaves that bucket behind because, she will not thirst again refreshed by his presence. Without a rude word, a scolding, or any hint of disrespect, he refreshes her and the thirst she had for love that led her through one relationship after another is satisfied as she faces the one is love.
Then, they bring him food, but he is not hungry now because, doing the work of salvation which is the will of the Father is food enough for him. He hungers not for food, but for the lost and forgotten, the sinful and the thirsty. To the astonishment of those disciples, the whole town comes out in one great profession of faith just days after another crowd without faith full of fear at his power, begged him to leave.
My friends, we are all weary these days, and some were weary before an invisible virus tested our patience and courage. Many of us have been on the march of life for a long time. We get tired. We get hungry, and we get thirsty. We complain to God like the Israelites, and we forget too easily how the Lord has cared for us. This place where we gather is like that well where sinners meet the sinless one. We hear no reproach, and are not shamed nor scolded by the one we meet here. We stand under this great cross remembering what flowed from his side: the water that bathes and refreshes, and the blood that give us life. We are called once again to worship in Spirit and in Truth, and to profess our faith, like those Samaritans, in the Savior of the World.
In a moment, the Catechumens will stand before us for our blessing and our prayers. They have come here in one way or another because like the woman of this Gospel they have seen or heard about this one who knows everything they have ever done and loves them still. They are headed for the water. They are headed for the bread of life, and the cup of salvation. We rejoice in their presence. We see in them all own constant need for conversion. These catechumens are hungry and wait with great hope for the day when they shall be among those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.