Thursday, March 2, 2023

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent By Elaine Pfaff ARCWP

The readings today remind us of the necessity of water in our lives.  Our bodies are composed of 60% water.  We depend on a lot of water to maintain the internal temperature that keeps cells alive.  A person can survive about three days without water.

And so, the biblical image of “being like a watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” in Isaiah (58) is the promise to keep in focus as we dive deeply into our Scripture passages and poem today.

I want to start with the Gospel.  Jesus is thirsty and in need of water.  Startling, isn't it?  To think of the Christ's human body – parched and dependent on the kindness of another for a drink.  Not just any other, but a Samaritan other!  Jews and Samaritans were not a mutually friendly crowd.  And this “other” is a woman!

The Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, know her as Photini, the luminous one.  She is celebrated in Eastern churches on February 26th Her feast day is recent, and so, we hold her centrally in our reflection today ~ along with Jesus.  Mutually, as our photo so beautifully conveys. 

 Sermons about the sinfulness of the Samaritan woman because she had 5 husbands miss “ the point on her significance in Scripture” and fail “to appreciate why a woman might have had more than one husband during that time,” namely, death in war, illness, or prison.”  For sure, a woman without a man in patriarchal society is diminished, and in Jesus' society, a woman without a man “was nothing.”  But Jesus overcomes exclusiveness in this encounter at the well “and moves toward building a community of inclusiveness” and a “woman who preaches, teaches, evangelises and works as an Apostle.” (Therese Katerbash, Women's Ordination Worldwide in “Photini, The Samaritan Woman at the Well and One of the First Active Apostles” 2/27/2020)  

This context is foundational to the question with which we conclude the Gospel reading. We understand that the well water is intended for all of us, with or without a bucket. The poem we read attests to that lavish drink of grace.

Let's go now to the grumbling community with whom Moses is exasperated.  With whom do you identify?  Where are you, where am I ~ in this process of spiritual freedom?  


                                                                                                           By Elaine Pfaff


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