Third Sunday of Lent – Year A

by Fr Z Ngwenya

Click here for Sunday’s readings

First Reading: Ex 17: 3-7;
Responsorial psalm: Ps. 95: 1-2, 6-9.
Second: Rom 5: 1-2. 5-8
Gospel: Jn 4: 5-42

Brothers and sisters, we as the pilgrim church here on earth have been immersed in the history of salvation. When we speak about the history of salvation we speak about the theological expression of the divine initiative and of his loving presence and dialogue with mankind. God is always present, he dialogues with us, and is always taking the initiative in this dialogue. In the first reading we see that God who chose the people of Israel, does not abandon them in their need, but fulfils his promise of fidelity in the pact of alliance and accompanies them with his power in their wanderings through the desert. This divine presence is not always visible. In fact, the opposite seems true: that God has forgotten his people. The children of Israel cry out in hunger and thirst in nostalgia for the past. God is moved and intervenes effectively by sending manna, abundance of water, and gives them the hope of a land of milk and honey. Then the people realise God is truly faithful and they renew their confidence in him and his elect, Moses.

In the Gospel we see that the Samaritan woman, and her countrymen, seem abandoned by God, as for centuries they have left the true worship of Yahweh and followed the gods of other peoples, renouncing Yahweh, the only God, and their Jewish identity (cf. 2 Kg 17, 28-31). They are religious persons, but have allowed themselves to be influenced by idolatry, they do not know the true God or where and how to worship him. Nevertheless, God shows his nearness and presence through Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals himself as the true Messiah, the anointed of Yahweh who saves his people, and reveals the true worship of God, which does not depend on a place, but on interior disposition: worship in spirit and in truth. Through the faith of the Samaritan woman, the Hellenistic Christians of Jerusalem came to believe that indeed God is faithful to his people and to his plan for salvation.

In the second reading, St. Pauls speaks of God’s faithfulness, his efficacious presence in us and among us, is felt by us through the action of the Holy Spirit, the living water poured into our hearts, the gift the Father has given us to remind us of his love. This action of the Holy Spirit gives us the certainty of being saved by the work of Jesus Christ, who dies for us, and opens us to hope, a hope that does not deceive, because it is guaranteed by the first fruits of salvation already tasted in this world.

Brothers and sisters, the word of God today calls each and everyone of us not to lose sight of the presence of God in our lives. In our joys and in our struggles, God is always present. Even when our world is plagued by wars and viruses but we need to always remember that God will not abandon his children. In times of difficulties we need to cry out to the Lord for he is the only one who can save us. Let us, therefore, cultivate in our hearts the right disposition so that we can indeed worship God in truth and in spirit. Let us pray this Sunday for all the victims of the Coronavirus around the world, and also for those who have lost their loved ones. May God comfort them and strengthen their faith in him. We all lift up our hands and we ask God to protect our country and the whole world from all calamities.