Third Sunday in Lent- 5th March

12th March – Third Sunday of Lent

Ex 17:3-7 Ps 94 Rom 5:1-2; 5-8 Jn 4:5-42

The three great catechetical gospels from John that we find over the next three weeks are much longer than our normal Sunday gospels. There might be good pastoral reasons for using the shorter version, but the fact that we are offered these should make the point that they are truly significant. If presented well and their importance made clear by the delivery (several voices?) and a tone of solemnity, their impact can be considerable. This gospel of the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman is a story that unfolds to reveal profound truths of the nature of any Christian encounter with Christ. There is ordinariness to the beginning – a traveller seeks a drink, but the woman is aware that as a Jew and a rabbi, and her being a woman with a “chequered” past, this is not an ordinary person she encounters.

As the meeting unfolds, it is clear that the conversation is far deeper than she imagined, and finally she realises who has come to meet her. Like the fishermen in the Synoptic tradition, she abandons everything (her water jar – a thing of considerable value) and takes on the role of evangeliser. The coming to faith and the acting on faith offer a model of conversion – that is why the gospel is always encouraged when communities are bringing catechumens on the Lenten journey. But for all who gather this Sunday, it is a gospel that once again invites a response of conversion to the Christ who is encountered when the community gather for Eucharist.