3rd Sunday of Lent (A) 2017

Todays Gospel reading is so packed with symbolism, with references to the tribal history of Israel, with allusions to traditional practises, gender inequality, and historical tribal animosities that I will not even try to make sense of it for you. That is unless you have a couple of hours to spare. A great theme or symbol in the Bible are water. For areas like the middle east which are desert, semi-arid or subject to periodic and prolonged droughts, water is very much bound up with life and health. People are accustomed to travelling long distances to obtain water. It is a great blessing, equivalent to life itself. Having a constant and dependable source of water was a very great gift indeed. Even here in England if you have ever experienced dry taps for a short period you will get some idea of the importance of water in our lives. We have all experienced the rejuvenating effects of an early morning shower. Jesus uses this constant preoccupation with water in his teaching and parables. “Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” We all have a great thirst for love, for compassion, for recognition, for appreciation, for respect. We cannot get enough of these things. The lack or denial of these things, especially as we grow up, can have grave consequences in our lives. Can cause great damage. Jesus of Nazareth claims to have, and freely offers us, all these things. As he said “whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.” But do I have the bucket to lower into the well of living water? There always seems to be this hitch. God’s gifts are there before me. They are freely offered. But I lack the motivation, the ability, the will, the courage, to reach out and take them. I do not have the bucket and am not willing to go to the trouble of going and getting one. I instinctively understand that accepting God’s living water will mean surrendering my life to God. Handing over control to God. Saying goodbye to self-interest. As Jesus said “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.” But I don’t want this. I am not ready for this. I like to dip in and out as I feel like it. So what’s the solution? I don’t know. I am in the same boat as the rest of you. The saints and Jesus of Nazareth tell us that handing over control to God is the path to true freedom – freedom to love and to be loved.