HOMILY FOR THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (A)


A family who had just moved into a new neighborhood had a late start one morning. As a result their seven year old missed her school bus. Though under pressure to get to his own work on time, the dad agreed to take her to school if she gave him directions. Up to that he had never been there himself. After twenty minutes of apparently going round in circles they finally arrived at the school which turned out to be quite close to where they lived. The dad was steaming and asked why she drove him all over the place when the school was so close to home. We went the way the school bus goes she said. That’s the only way I know.

In a way that’s the story of so many of us. It’s was certainly the story of the lady in the Gospel today the Samaritan woman. After five failed marriages and now with a live in lover she was a woman who obviously had a big thirst, or perhaps I should say, a great lust for life. She was definitely looking for something and going the long way round in order to find it.

There were three sides to the woman in the Gospel of today. First she was a Samaritan, second she was a woman and third she was a prostitute. The Samaritans and the Jews were engaged in an age-old conflict and it was an unwritten law that any self respecting Jew would neither speak to or associate with a Samaritan. In speaking to her this was the first big divide that Jesus crossed. He also broke the taboo that a rabbi would not speak to a woman. Such prejudice has taken two millennium to shift. Finally it was believed at the time that if you were a holy person and you associated with sinners you would automatically become contaminated. This was what shocked and scandalized the so called religious people at the time that Jesus was always to be seen eating and drinking with sinners and even more surprising was the way they felt perfectly at home in his company.

In all three cases Jesus crossed the age-old divide and met this woman exactly where she was at, and with no judgments on her life journey.

Like so many the Woman of Samaria suffered from the myth of finding the perfect person who would make all her dreams come true. She was looking for that special someone who would make her feel whole, complete and be the answer to all her problems. She was stuck in a pattern of repeat relationships like someone looking for milk in a hardware store. She wasn’t going to find what she was looking for where she was looking.

She comes across as a lady who was a bit needy and insecure. Someone who may have had a difficult childhood where a lot of her basic needs for love acceptance and affirmation had never been met. As a result she probably came to each relationship with a bagful of expectations. With an attractive smile and a nice body she had no problem attracting men. Then her neediness came into play with each one feeling suffocated and expected not just to be husband but mother and father as well – so they just ran and who could blame them. Like so many needy people she just pushed the very people out of her life that she most wanted to have. No one likes being used in order to fill another persons vacuum.

The search for wholeness in someone else is based on the belief that we’re not enough in ourselves, that we’re not complete, that we can’t generate our own love or create our own happiness. In other words that we need someone or something outside of ourselves in order to feel happy or complete. Its this desperate need for love that can cripple any relationship

If we want more love in our life then we need to fall in love with the life we have. It’s more important to be relationship material than to be in relationship.

Instead of trying to find the right person it’s more important to be the right person. ‘If your own boat doesn’t float no one will want to sail across the ocean with you.’

Many go through life feeling that they have never found love because they have never met that special someone. Whether we do or not doesn’t prevent us from finding special love in our lives. To equate love with romance is to blind ourselves to the love that may be all around us.

There’s the world of a difference between wanting a loving joyful relationship and needing someone to make us feel complete and good about ourselves. If someone feels they are nothing without Mr. Right then sooner or later those feelings of nothingness will surface in the relationship. Even if Mr. Right comes along it might soon be discovered that his first name is ‘always’.

The answer to our loneliness is not to be found outside of ourselves in relationships. It is fairy tale thinking to believe that someone out there will fix us.

Looking at a partner and seeing what’s wrong with him or her is a huge distraction from what we really need to be looking at - ourselves. As the saying goes, ‘How empty of me to be so full of you’.

The essence of the story is about a woman who came to the well with a bucket because she was thirsty and through her encounter with Christ went home with the well. He revealed to her what she didn’t know she had, her own inner spring. She had discovered that what she always needed was already inside her but much of her life she had been going round in circles and searching in all the wrong places.

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