Here are the readings and Fr. Jim's Homily for 15 March 2020.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
1 Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is a great God, *
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
and the heights of the hills are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, *
and his hands have molded the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
8 Harden not your hearts,
as your forebears did in the wilderness, *
at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
when they tempted me.
9 They put me to the test, *
though they had seen my works.
10 Forty years long I detested that generation and said, *
"This people are wayward in their hearts;
they do not know my ways."
11 So I swore in my wrath, *
"They shall not enter into my rest."
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
Fr. Jim's Homily...
The reading for today is a familiar one and it is the longest conversation of Jesus recorded in any of the Gospels. Jesus and his disciples are journeying north from Judea to Galilee after having celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem. Samaria lies between these two regions. The most direct route for this travel is through Samaria; but, because of centuries old hostilities between the Jews and the Samaritans, most Jewish travelers prefer to take an extra day and go around Samaria.
Jesus and his disciples took the direct route and in this reading they have stopped at a place known as Jacob's well. He sends his disciples into a close by the city to buy food and being weary from traveling Jesus remains at the well. As he is resting there, a Samaritan woman comes to the well to draw water, and Jesus asks her to give him a drink. The woman, who is never named, is surprised that a man – particularly a Jewish man, would converse with her.
However, Jesus is willing to break the customs in order to talk with one who is both a woman and a foreigner. With some back and forth conversations, the woman asks, “why do you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” Jesus responds with one of his cryptic statements saying that he can give the woman refreshment of “living water” far better than the water he asks of her. Naturally, the woman points out that he cannot give her a drink of any kind since he has no bucket to lower into the well. Besides, she asked, “where do you get that living water?”
Jesus replies all who drink of the water from the well will be thirsty again, but the water of which he speaks “will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” This woman, just as Nicodemus, has trouble getting past the literal level of Jesus conversation and responds she would be glad to be relieved of her daily trips to the will to carry water.
But, the gift of God that Jesus offers the woman is the eternal kind of life that is made available through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus himself is not the living water, but it is through Jesus that the living water, the Holy Spirit, comes to true believers.
Continuing his conversation with her, Jesus tells the woman to call her husband, and reveals what he knows about her past relationships when she replies that she has no husband. Jesus knows she has had five past husband's and the one you have now is not your husband. He knows things about this woman's life did no stranger could possibly know and she concludes that he is a prophet, perhaps a prophet like Moses that the Samaritans were waiting for. To be at this well at noon, the hottest part of the day, rather than early morning or evening, indicates this woman has been marginalized by her people and because of her past history probably lives as an outcast.
Because Jesus spoke the truth of her private affairs, she wonders if he can disclose to truth about the appropriate place to worship. That is, “on this mountain” the Samaritans consider holy or in Jerusalem? Jesus responds that a time is coming when the Spirit of God will transform people into true believers who will be enlightened and enabled to worship God in truth and in spirit neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. The woman said to him, I know the Messiah is coming.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
The disciples return with the supplies and were astonished to find Jesus speaking with this woman, a Samaritan woman, no less, who is not even accompanied by her husband, but they said nothing. She leaves her water bucket by the well and rushes back to town to invite her neighbors to “come and see” a man who has told me everything I have ever done.
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him to eat something and Jesus tells the disciples that he has food of which they are yet unaware. His mission – his sustenance – derives from completing the work of the Father. God's harvest is now ready to be reaped, as manifested by the approach of the Samaritans. The disciples are to bring in the crops that others have labored to grow. In this work, the sower, Jesus, and the reaper, disciples, will rejoice together.
In the closing verses, this outcast woman becomes the first evangelist to the Samaritans as the people come to see Jesus because of the testimony of the woman.
Few stories in the gospel show us so much about the character of Jesus.
First, it shows us the reality of his humanity. Jesus is exhausted as he sat by the side of the well. John shows us one for whom life was an effort as it is for us; he shows us one who also was tired and had to go on.
Second it shows us the warmth of his sympathy. The Samaritan woman would have fled in embarrassment from an ordinary religious teacher. But it seemed the most natural thing in the world to talk to Jesus as she had met someone who was not a critic but a friend, one who did not condemn but who understood.
Then, it shows us Jesus as the breaker-down of barriers. In light of the centuries old Jewish-Samaritan quarrel, it was small wonder that the Samaritan woman was astonished that Jesus, a Jew, should speak to her, a Samaritan.
And finally, to a Jew, here was the Son of God, tired and weary and thirsty listening with understanding to a sorry story. Here was Jesus breaking through the barriers of nationality and Orthodox Jewish custom. Here is the beginning of the universality of the gospel; here is God so loving the world, not in theory, but in action.
Today, as the church, we are Christ's hands for service in this world. He uses us to do his work. He uses us to change people's lives. That's our mission as Christians – to bring the transforming power of Christ love to the people about us. So, let us rejoice that Christ has transforming power and let us rejoice that he allows us to reach other people in his name and with his transforming power.
- January 2020