Third Sunday of Lent
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
I have in my hand something I will never be able to give up for Lent because I am not strong enough, I am weak, and I am powerless against eating it, and it is a Cadbury Egg. I love these things, and they are only out at this time of the year, and I dream about eating these things, all year long. On the First Sunday of Lent, I went to buy some and I could not wait to taste one. I bought six, and I had to use my credit card because I did not have enough money. I ate one in the car before I even turned it on, I ate another one driving the car, I ate another sitting in my garage, and I ate another when I got into the kitchen. The remaining two I ate watching TV. Now that was a night, as I enjoyed the creamy middle. These Cadbury Eggs are the perfect Lenten food, because they only are sold during Lent, and they teach us what Lent is about and what are readings bring us to come to understand today. The creamy middle is God’s love that is inside of us. Lent is about a journey, a conversion to that inner sweetness of believing in God’s love for us. We complicated that process by hungering and thirsting for the wrong things.
In our first reading, the people wandering in the desert and they are thirsty, so thirsty they are willing to return to slavery in Egypt. It took the Israelites forty years to get to Promised Land. Why? If they went in a straight line, they could have shaved off maybe thirty years. It took Moses and the people that long to come to know the love of God. God is trying to remind us that he loves us, will it take another forty years for us to be set free?
St. Paul in our second reading is telling us that God’s love is freely given to us, we do not deserve it, and we can’t earn it! God just offers it, as a free gift. We just need to be willing to accept what God is offering. My friends, it is right here, why can we not grasp this idea, or welcome and treasure this most awesome gift?
In our Gospel Jesus is in a foreign land, so he is now a stranger, and he encounters a Samaritan woman. Samaritans and Jews disliked each other for lots of reason. The disciples are gone, so this encounter is a one-on-one encounter with Jesus. It is the most unlikely part of the day to be out because it is the hottest part of the day. Jesus initiates the conversation, and he is very blunt, “Give me a drink of water.” The conversation that follows has lots of twists and turns but what unfolds is Jesus is thirsty, and the woman can give Jesus what he wants, a drink of water. What happens is the woman will come to thirst for “living water” that only Jesus can give. As the conversation continues, she comes to realize who Jesus is, and when Jesus tells her “Go and get your husband and come back” she answers “that she does not have a husband.” Jesus tells her what he knows about her, and that she has had five husbands. She leaves her bucket, the very thing that she came with to give her life, she leaves the bucket behind and tells everyone in town, “He has told everything about me, and he still loves me and wants me to tell you.” Wow!
What I did not tell you is how I get to the creamy middle. I peel the tinfoil wrapper very slowly as not to tear it. If I tear it, which is almost every time, I tell myself I am a loser. This is another reminder to me of Lent because the thin tinfoil covering is my sins, it is just a thin layer, but it prevents me from getting to what I desire. It represents all the wrong things I thirst for and hunger for in my life.
My friends in Christ, God knows everything about us and still loves us. May we hunger and thirst for Christ, and know the sweetness of his great love.