Taste and See: our deepest needs

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Tormented by thirst, the people complained against Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt?’ they said. ‘Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’
Moses appealed to the Lord. ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take with you some of the elders of Israel and move on to the forefront of the people; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the river, and go. I shall be standing before you there on the rock, at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.’ This is what Moses did, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah because of the grumbling of the sons of Israel and because they put the Lord to the test by saying, ‘Is the Lord with us, or not?’

Exodus 17:3-7

Israel is judged as lacking in faith as it thirsts and murmurs in the wilderness- but its need is real and urgent.Israel fails to trust in God, or maybe just fails to ask God for what it needs – turning instead on Moses and rejecting the value of the first gifts of freedom received from God.

Thirst and the quenching of thirst remains a potent symbol in the scriptures for the relationship with God to whch we are all called and to which God is true. – and which is evidenced in the Gospel Reading accompanying the above first reading on the 3rd Sunday of Lent.

  • Of what do you lack and for what do you thirst?
  • How do you present your need to God?
  • How does God respond? And why?

Flowers and water at the National Gallery, Washington, USA. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Quench our thirst.

Jacob's Well, NablusOnce more, there are two Gospel readings we may hear today.

On this page, the reading of the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman which may always be used in Year A and must be used when the First Scrutiny is celebrated with those preparing for baptism at Easter.

On an accompanying blog, can be found the ‘default’ reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent in Year B.

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:

‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
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 do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’

At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

John 4:5-42

The Gospel is read on this Sunday to highlight the journey to Baptism that the Elect are making this Lent, and the call to a renewal of baptismal identity made to all those who are already baptised.

John’s Gospel shows Jesus challenging presumptions and assumptions, reaching out across barriers to restore the unity proper to the children of God. It also shows the challenges to that unity before, during and after his ‘intervention’ in the encounter with the woman at the well.

  • What keeps you from God?
  • What keeps you from neighbour?
  • Pray for those preparing for baptism.
  • Pray for the Christians of Palestine and for peace for all the people of the Holy Lands.

Photograph of the well of Jacob, Nablus, Palestine. (c) 2012,  Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Help us know our needs…

Detail of vestment, musee de Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille

The responsorial psalm at Mass on Sunday puts a song of yearning on our lips

For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.
For you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.

Psalm 62:2-6,8-9

On the whole we tend to think of thirst as an undesirable thing, something to be dealt with as quickly as possible. To be thirsty is to lack something.

However, for the psalmist, the fact of his thirst for God is something that he wishes to bless God for. The inability of his thirst to be quenched elsewhere, keeps him attentive to God, and is a source of blessing.

  • What lack do you find to be a grace in your life?
  • What need helps to keep you faithful?

Photograph is of detail of chasuble in the Musée of Notre-Dame de Garde, Marseille.
Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014