This time of year in California it is common to check the newspaper not only for Spring Training baseball scores but also for reports on the accumulated snow pack on the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Interest in snow accumulation so far north of us is understandable as it is the Spring run-off from these mountains that furnishes most of the water we so desperately need in southern California. Water is central to life- without it we die.
Today’s readings from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel of John speak of water but in very different ways. In Exodus, we encounter the Hebrew people complaining about a lack of water in the desert which allows God to work a miracle through Moses to supply this need (no Sierra snowpack in the Sinai desert). In the Gospel we encounter something far different as Jesus is near a well in a small Samaritan town and meets a woman who is fetching water. The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is almost comical but ends with Jesus referring to himself as ‘living water’ (again no Sierra snowpack needed). What in the world does that mean and how can it help us on our Lenten journey?
To give water in a desert land (like Palestine) was to give life just as Jesus’ words are life giving for people. This reminds us that not only do we have physical needs (water, food, housing, etc.) but also spiritual ones which often get overlooked or downplayed in our secular world. A person can suffer just as much from loneliness, despair, or guilt as from hunger. We are all paupers- needing food and drink for our physical needs as well as God and others to attend to our spiritual needs.
But it does not stop there for, as I mentioned before, Lent is about reflection but also action.
How are we water, giving life to one another? How do we share what we have with the poor? How do we offer Christ’s hope to those around us? We are called during Lent to give of ourselves not because we are so powerful but to remind us that we all are paupers in need of life support from God and others. paupers.
During this Lent please remember the Mission Doctors who give life-giving medical aid to God’s poorest.
God bless you and Happy Lent!