Do you believe Jesus will not forgive your sins?
Sunday Homily for February 24, 2008
Third Sunday of Lent (A)
By Father James Gilhooley
A British princess was treated graciously by a shopclerk. She told his employer of his deference to her station. The puzzled shopkeeper said, "Princess, he treats everyone the same way."
One reason the Father humanized His Son in the person of Jesus was to allow us to find a divine person eminently approachable. Thus we can latch onto Him in happy days but also in blue ones. One can prove this thesis by using today's Gospel.
The first point to notice is the woman is not named. John wanted her to be a type for us sinners. Slip your name into the blank spot. There is room for every mother's child of us.
The Christ painted here by the artist John is sensitive and warm. The reader can just about extend a hand and feel the Teacher.
When the Gospel opens, Jesus and His people are on the run from southern Palestine. John the Baptist had just been arrested. Christ did not want to wait around until the authorities decided to round up the usual suspects.
He and His party were heading quick march into the safety of the northern Palestinian mountains. He knew that territory better than the south. There nobody would lay a hand on Him. He would campaign again but on His own terms.
One of the great charms of Jesus, who owned nothing but a toothbrush bought at Wal-Mart, is that He could break camp anytime and at any place. He did not own enough to fill even a brown paper bag. John is asking us why we need to have so many possessions. We need a fleet of trucks to move us. After all, we can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.
For safety reasons, Jesus was moving through Samaria. The Samaritans disliked the Jews then as much as many Arabs do today. The Jewish police would not dare follow Him lest they bemurdered. Ironically, events would prove the Nazarene received a better hearing from the Samaritans than from His own fellow-Jews.
He and the twelve were only into the second of their three day journey. They had covered thirty blistering miles and with no bottled water.
The party finally came to a deep well fed by a fresh spring of delicious cool water. It was near the town of Sychar.
There was a problem. Jesus had no rope or bucket. The well was one hundred feet deep. Shrewd John is faxing us the message that the clever Jesus began His journey without a jar. John here is asking all of us, "Isn't this a Christ you can identify with? Have you not yourselves made similar dumb mistakes?"
His apostles rush off to Home Depot to buy rope and a bucket. But the Teacher is too dehydrated to join them. His get up and go had got up and gone. His feet were killing Him. His wet clothing was sticking to His skin. John is shouting to us, "Jesus knew what exhaustion was." Do you feel you cannot relate with Him?"
John too is telling us the Messiah gave others the opportunity to do favors for Him. He knew that others are anxious to be generous. Do we accept favors reluctantly?
No doubt Christ sat in the shade offered by the well. The energies He had left were spent fighting off the mosquitoes looking for lunch. He was feeling sorry for Himself. Can you not identify with Him?
The Samaritan woman found herself attracted to this Christ. Why was she so swept off her feet by the Man at the well? This was not the first man she had met. If anything, she was an authority on men. She could have written her own Dear Abby column. As Christ gently reminded her, she had six lovers. She had forgotten more about men than most women will ever know.
Professional prostitute though she might be, Christ engaged this woman as an equal. He showered her with kindness and treated her as a princess. This type of deference she had never received from any of her Johns. They had treated her like white trash. He realized the truth of the aphorism that while words can't break bones, they can break hearts. Christ saw in her not the evil she had done but rather the heroine she could become with His encouragement.
Do you believe Jesus will not forgive your sins? Recall the sinner who asked the monk: "Will Jesus really forgive me?" The monk asked: "Do you throw away dirty clothes?" "No." "Then neither will Jesus throw you away. No matter what your past, your future is spotless."
Come and drink a glass of cool well water with Christ and confess your sins.