Third Sunday in Lent
“Gather around the well of Christ”
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
The rhyme, “water, water everywhere, not a drop of rain” is true to all parts of the earth. Just a couple of years ago, California had been experiencing drought for more than five years. Farmers were losing their profit, prices of farm supplies have gone up, the governor declared to all Californians to conserve water or face fines. We all prayed for rain. Then the rain came down and the flood came up. Now, we are praying for the victims of flood in many parts of the region. Still, people with compassionate hearts continued their conversation on how to help these afflicted communities.
In other parts of the world, people have been experiencing drought for decades and they have been praying everyday. Rain did not come. But people around the world were moved by compassion and put together their resources to dig wells and build pumps to produce water. The prayers of the afflicted people were answered. By the grace of God, the hearts of the people were touched to give and extend their helping hands. They had their moments of compassionate conversation.
In other parts of the world, in the Philippines, the appointed DENR secretary ordered many mining industry to be closed due to improper management of their mining activities that resulted to the death of the people’s natural fauna and flora. The river and ocean have turned into orange or clayish color, marine and sea creatures are dying, Climate has changed into humid because of open pit mining that killed many trees fishes. The people are clamoring for Ecological and economic justice, and now, are having their moments of compassionate conversation to save the earth.
In Dakota’s standing rock Indian Reservation, people are protesting for the construction of pipelines that could possibly damage their water sources. Faith based communities and environmental activists are having their conversation with the local indigenous people to prevent this from happening amidst the pushing forces of the government to push through with the construction. This reminds me of a protests done in years past against a cellophil industry whose products have damaged the indigenous people’s water resources for their drinking and for their crops. The Indigenous leaders had their moments of conversation on how to save lives against big company profits. Indigenous children are safe again swimming in the river and irrigation waters.
All these stories I have just shared all happened on an intimate conversations surrounding the issues of water and life.
Today’s Gospel takes me back to my early life experience on a well. I remember those times when I played around our well with other kids doing hide and seek while they wait for their parents to fetch water? I remember of a public well when each member of the community made vigil to protect the well from any desecration because the well is our source of life. The Metaphor, “Don’t spit in the well where you drink from” was derived from this experience. Around the deep well, is a place where children play while their parents are lining up to fetch water. It is a place where stories of the day are heard and laughter sets the day for everyone. It is also a place where good counsels are whispered to those who are grieving. It is a place where you meet new friends. It is a place where you can find Jesus making conversation with families. I see that connection with the Gospel this morning. I would like us therefore to journey on the wonders of love set by our Lord Jesus Christ with the woman at the well. We will find out that Jesus broke every rule of old so that a new spirit of love will arise and make the things impossible become possible
At the outset, it is very important for us to understand that during the time of Jesus, Jews do not associate themselves with the Samaritans. Samaritans were traditionally enemies of the Jews. The Samaritans and Jews did not mix with each other nor intermarry with each other. Jews and Samaritans had different centers of worship. The Jews believed that the center of worship was in Jerusalem; the Samaritans believed that the center of worship on Mount Gerazim. Not only did Jews and Samaritans have no dealings with one another, even to accept a drink of water was the epitome of ritual uncleanness for a devout Jew. For a Jew to have any contact whatsoever with a sinful only made matters worse. No wonder the woman was startled when Jesus asked for a drink and the disciples horrified when they returned. To find Jesus deep in conversation with this woman while sipping water from her pitcher broke all their preconceived notions about the relations of Jews and Samaritans. You can just imagine how a Jew then would try to avoid talking to any one from Samaria. Just like when you try to avoid someone whom you have a grudge with, or someone whom you hate to even see their shadows or smell their presence. Wrinkles begin to show on your forehead, your heartbeats start to pound your heart walls, you become irritated then the feeling of hate will start your day. Do you remember any of that? Jesus broke the rule of non-association with sinners. He saw in this woman the opportunity to show the world that God is not contained in one tribe or one nation but rather God is the God of all nations and we are all His children. Jesus loved this woman at the well, and he wants us to love her as well. Jesus had compassion for h e r a n d J e s u s w a n t s u s t o have compassion for her as well. Jesus did not condemn her and Jesus doesn’t want us to condemn her either. Jesus wasn’t harsh with her. He didn’t put her down. He didn’t judge her. She would have been an easy mark being a an outcast. It would have been so easy for Jesus to condemn her, to reprimand her. From the first moment Jesus was with her, he sensed tenderness towards her. He didn’t seem upset by her behavior. Closely examine the story for today and you will not find one hint of condemnation of her, not one single word of criticism of her. Instead, Jesus sense her tenderness, knowing her personal tragedies. Jesus did not have that judgmental spirit to his personality. Jesus loved that woman.
You see, Love breaks every residue of evil within us, we only have to learn to open up with love then everything follows. And that is the way that Jesus feels about you and me as well. Jesus loves us in all of our sinfulness. You and I don’t need condemnation. What we need is living water. Jesus offered the woman what she really needed. She needed living water, not a condemnation. Jesus wanted to free her, forgive her, shape her life in a new direction and change her. Jesus wanted to offer this woman the living water. Jesus came into her private life and offered her the living water. And that is the way God works with you and me. A sign that God is active in our lives is when he comes into our personal lives. Jesus wants to get personal with you and me. Jesus wants to get into your private life and mine. You have a private and personal life which is contrary to the will of God. And Christ comes into our personal lives, not to embarrass us, not to judge us, not to be unkind or malicious to us. But Christ comes to free us and change us and offer us what we really need: living water. Many of us are thirsty on such living water, such love. Are you thirsty? Is there dryness anywhere in your life? Is there a part of your heart that has been burnt by the heat of someone else’s hate? Is there a part of your soul that you have failed to water and like a neglected house plant is brown and wilting. Is there a need in you for love, forgiveness, and acceptance? Do you ever thirst for something deeper and more meaningful in life? Come to the well. Meet Jesus there. He will give you living water. He will give us water that brings new life to the dead parts of our hearts and souls. Once we have drank of that water we will never thirst again for eternity. Jesus already knows you better than you know yourself. As with the woman at the well he can see the turmoil in our lives. He can see the pain of betrayal. Accept him and his gift of living water, new life, and eternal life. Like all the holy men and women we had in this Church, Thomasita Purganan, Dolores Cudiamat, Dolores Santos, Himaya Aurelio, Amparo Flores, Saniata De Santis, Elsie Martin, Maria Cappa, Carolyn Hahs, lilia lachica, Claudette Coleman, Edna lagunte, Carolyn Hahs, John Ryel, Leslie Odone, George Denison, Jim Adams, Dionisio Milanes and others who helped shape this Church. Let us continue to be faithful to our callings and serve God wherever the Holy Spirit takes us. Let the living water that is in our hearts flow like a river to those whom we meet, at a well, at a bus station, senior center, Convalescent homes, malls, at church and everywhere. May we all be drawn closer to God in our daily experiences and walks of life in this season of Lent by showing love, compassion and respect to one another. May we always be faithful to God in our quench for living water. May I invite you therefore to the well of the living where we all gather to the table of Christ and that may the Holy Communion we share quench our thirsty soul with the living water, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.