Papal Homilies

3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

Pope Francis

Living Water

Angelus – March 15, 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

The Gospel passage from today, the Third Sunday of Lent, tells us of Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:5-42). …

Water is the focus of this dialogue. On the one hand, water is an essential element that slakes the body’s thirst and sustains life. On the other, water is a symbol of divine grace that gives eternal life. In the biblical tradition God is the source of living water: as it says in Psalms and in the Prophets: distancing oneself from God, the source of living water, and from his Law, leads to the worst drought.

This is the experience of the People of Israel in the desert. During their long journey to freedom, as they were dying of thirst, they cried out against Moses and against God because there was no water. Thus, God willed Moses to make water flow from a rock, as a sign of the Providence of God, accompanying his people and giving them life (cf. Ex 17:1-7).

The Apostle Paul, too, interprets that rock as a symbol of Christ. He says: “And that rock was Christ” (cf. 1 Cor 10:4). It is the mysterious figure of his presence in the midst of the People of God on their journey…

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope Benedict XVI

Christ’s Thirst

Angelus – February 24, 2008

3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

The theme of thirst runs throughout John’s Gospel: from the meeting with the Samaritan woman to the great prophecy during the feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7: 37-38), even to the Cross, when Jesus, before he dies, said to fulfil the Scriptures: “I thirst” (Jn 19: 28).

Christ’s thirst is an entranceway to the mystery of God, who became thirsty to satisfy our thirst, just as he became poor to make us rich (cf. II Cor 8: 9). Yes, God thirsts for our faith and our love. As a good and merciful father, he wants our total, possible good, and this good is he himself.

The Samaritan woman, on the other hand, represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what he seeks. She had “five husbands” and now she lives with another man; her going to and from the well to draw water expresses a repetitive and resigned life. However, everything changes for her that day, thanks to the conversation with the Lord Jesus, who upsets her to the point that she leaves her pitcher of water and runs to tell the villagers: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4: 29).

SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

St. Pope John Paul II

Whoever drinks of this water that I shall give him will never thirst (Jn 4:14)

Homily – March 7, 1999

3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

1. Today, on the Third Sunday of Lent, Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well is an extraordinary catechesis on faith. To catechumens preparing to receive Baptism and to all believers on their way to Easter, today the Gospel shows us the “living water” of the Holy Spirit, who regenerates man from within, causing him to be reborn to new life “from on high”.

Human life is an “exodus” from slavery to the promised land, from death to life. In this journey we sometimes experience the aridity and fatigue of life: poverty, loneliness, the loss of meaning and hope, to the point that we can even wonder, as the Jews did on their journey: “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex 17:7).

That Samaritan woman, so tried by life, must have frequently thought: “Where is the Lord?”. Until one day she meets a man who reveals the whole truth to her, a woman and even more a Samaritan, in other words, doubly despised. In a simple conversation he offers her the gift of God: the Holy Spirit, a spring of living water welling up to eternal life. He reveals himself to her as the awaited Messiah and tells her of the Father who wants to be worshiped in spirit and truth.

2. The saints are “true worshipers of the Father”: men and women who, like the Samaritan woman, have met Christ and through him discovered the meaning of life. They have experienced firsthand what the Apostle Paul says in the second reading: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5).

The grace of Baptism also came to fruition in the new blesseds. They drank from the fountain of Christ’s love to the point that they were deeply transformed and in turn became overflowing springs to quench the thirst of the many brothers and sisters they met on life’s path.

3. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God … and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Rom 5:1-2). Today, in beatifying the martyrs of Motril, the Church puts these words of St Paul on her lips. In fact, Vicente Soler, his six Augustinian Recollect companions and the diocesan priest, Manuel Martín, obtained access to “the glory of the sons of God” by the heroic witness of their faith. They did not die for an ideology but freely gave their lives for the One who had first died for them. They offered Christ the gift they had received from him.

By faith these simple men of peace, who had nothing to do with the political debate, worked for years in mission territories, suffered a multitude of hardships in the Philippines, soaked the fields of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela with their sweat, and started social and educational programmes in Motril and other parts of Spain.

When the supreme moment of martyrdom came, by faith they could face death serenely, comforting the other condemned men and forgiving their executioners. “How can this be?”, we ask ourselves, and St Augustine answers: “Because he who reigns in heaven governs the mind and tongue of his martyrs, and through them he has triumphed on earth” (Sermon 329, 1-2).

Blessed are you, martyrs of Christ! May everyone rejoice over the honour paid to these witnesses of the faith. God helped them in their tribulations and gave them the crown of victory. May they help those who are working today for reconciliation and peace in Spain and in the world!

4. The people who camped in the desert were thirsty, as we are reminded by the first reading from the Book of Exodus (cf. 17:3). The sight of people spiritually thirsting was also before the eyes of Nicolas Barré, of the Order of Minims. His ministry brought him constantly into contact with people who, living in the desert of religious ignorance, were in danger of quenching their thirst at the polluted spring of certain contemporary ideas.

That is why he felt it his duty to become a spiritual director and teacher for those he met in his pastoral work. To broaden his range of action, he founded a new religious family, the Sisters of the Child Jesus, whose duty was to evangelize and educate abandoned youth, to show them God’s love, to communicate the fullness of divine life to them and to contribute to their growth as persons.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana