Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent

I don’t know if many of you like to swim. Swimming is good fun, good exercise and I love it. I grew up swimming in the Missouri River in Yankton, I took swimming lessons at our municipal pool, I can handle myself pretty well whether in freestyle, side stroke and breast stroke. I like swimming. Do you know what I love most about swimming? How hungry I am afterward.

Have you noticed that? You go swimming, indoor, outdoor, off of a boat, wherever, and when you are done you are famished. I’m not sure what it is, the full body workout, the waves, but I am ravenous! When I was in college a bunch of us would go swimming on Friday nights just so we could go to Perkins or Happy Chef or Pizza Hut afterwards and gorge ourselves.

Now, that probably wasn’t the healthiest or the most virtuous habit, exercising to eat. I’m probably still carrying some of those delicious “Deli-Ham and Lots-o-Cheese” omelets on me somewhere. But the power of that hunger was amazing.

Today’s Gospel, concerning the Samaritan woman, begs the question, “Have we aroused our appetite for God?”

This woman begins with no discernable need. She is comfortable and confident that what she is doing is just fine; she has no need, no hunger, and no thirst for anything else. She goes to the well, she eats on her table, and she is satisfied. Enter Jesus, who whets her appetite with a spring of living water dwelling up to eternal life. The Samaritan woman is moved and asks for this water: “So that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus sees that she is only thinking on the physical level- labor, or the psychological level- thirst, and so, like a microscope that focuses deeper into the specimen he asks a different question: “Go call your husband and come back.” Immediately he has found a sensitive area and the woman says, “I have no husband.” As Jesus reveals her past he also reveals her own need for God, her need to worship in Spirit and Truth.

How do we approach this Sunday Mass? Do we come as part of the routine? Monday I shop, Wednesday I play volleyball, Saturday I do laundry and Sunday I go to Mass? Do we come as part of a social group? I always go to Mass with Eric, Bobby, and John so that afterward we grab a bite. These reasons are fine and good, but do they block us from the deeper appetite for God?

Jesus wants to awaken us to our inhabitable desire that only He can satisfy. Jesus wants us to discover our thirst, our hunger, our appetite for God as a profound and penetrating part of our life. Pray with me: “Lord Jesus Christ, You know the depths of our hearts, ‘you know when we sit and when we stand’. Use this season of grace to awaken our appetite for You. As the swimmer and the runner realizes the need for water and food, so awaken our need for Your goodness, beauty and truth in the midst of our daily life. By our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, shine through our blindness and shout down our deafness to see You here in this Eucharist, that we may be satisfied and bring Your joy and peace to our world.”

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