3rd Sunday of Lent
March 19, 2017
Life without Faith
Have you ever thought about what life would be like without God?
Or without Christ? Or without faith?
I am thinking that we would lack a sense of identity, because that depends, at least to some extent on having a sense of where we came from and where we are going. We would lack a sense of purpose, of what we are to do with our time on this earth.
And we would lack a moral basis, a basis for knowing what is good and bad. I think this is what life would be like without faith in God and Christ.
Faith is crucial and this is what today’s gospel story is about. Its message is very basic, very fundamental.
For What Are We Thirsting?
The bottom line of the whole story is Jesus asking us: are we thirsting for something more?
Most of us have to spend a lot of our energy and time just making a living and keeping up with things. And beyond this, we can easily get caught up in wanting more and more things to quench our thirst, things beyond the necessities – like a new SUV, the latest iPhone, a wider screen TV, and on it goes.
None of these things is bad, but if we think about it, they never quite satisfy us. They don’t satisfy us forever or even for very long.
My hunch is that underneath all of this, we want a water that will quench our thirst forever – something that will satisfy our deepest human longings. And that is why Jesus really catches the attention of this Samaritan woman today.
Without even being conscious of it, her fascination with Jesus goes way beyond the issue of physical thirst. She senses that there is something much more here.
Jesus is offering her a relationship that really quenches our thirst – a relationship with himself, a relationship with God. He is inviting this woman and us to faith.
Find Faith in the Gospels
Today’s gospel story helps us with how we can come to faith or to a fuller faith.
This happens for the Samaritan woman through her encounter with Jesus. She listens to him and observes him as a person.
We too can listen to and observe Jesus right here in the gospels. That’s why they were written and why we have them.
The gospels, I believe, need to be the center of our spirituality and prayer life. Reading a passage, allowing ourselves to encounter Jesus, carefully listening to what he says and observing what he does – this is crucial for drawing us to faith or to a fuller faith.
We Believe You Are the Savior
At the end of today’s passage, the people say: “We know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
So, if we make time to encounter Jesus in the gospels, we can also come to this kind of vibrant, living faith. We will know him as the One who saves us from a lack of identity by naming us the sons and daughters of the heavenly Father and revealing that we will someday return home to this loving Father.
We will know him as the One who saves us from a life without purpose by calling us to grow in his likeness and, in our own way, to bring his presence to the world around us. And we will know him as the One who saves us from a life without direction by giving us a moral basis for life, a way for knowing what is good and the strength to do it.
So, we are to make the space to encounter Jesus in the gospels, listening to what he says and observing what he does. It is much like what the Samaritan woman does at the well.
We are to make this the center of our prayer and spirituality. And if we do this, we too will be able to say with conviction, “We know that this is truly the savior of the world.”