MASS AT THE ROMAN PARISH OF ST GELASIUS I
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Third Sunday of Lent
1. "Lord ... give me this water, that I may not thirst " (Jn 4,15 ; cf. Gospel Acclamation). The request of the Samaritan woman marks a crucial turning-point in her long and intense conversation with Jesus that takes place at Jacob's well, near the city of Sychar. St John recounts it in today's Gospel.
Christ asks the woman "Give me a drink" (v. 7). His material thirst symbolizes a far deeper reality: it expresses his ardent desire that his dialogue partner and her fellow-citizens will open themselves to faith. The Samaritan woman, when she asks Christ for water, is basically revealing the need for salvation present in every heart. And the Lord is revealed as the one who offers the living water of the Spirit, that satisfies forever the infinite thirst of every human being.
The liturgy for this Third Sunday of Lent presents a splendid commentary on the Johannine episode when it says in the preface that Jesus "so deeply thirsted"
for the salvation of the Samaritan woman that "he set on fire in her the flame of God's love".
This is what happens in the rest of the Gospel passage. The bond with Jesus totally transforms the life of the woman who hurries without delay to proclaim the good news to the people in the nearby village: "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (Jn 4,29).
Revelation received with faith asks to become a word proclaimed to others, witnessed in the concrete choices of life. This is the mission of believers, coming from and growing in their personal meeting with the Lord.
I congratulate you on what you are doing, above all, in the work of catechesis, the liturgy and charity. In fact, they are the permanent pillars of Christian life and are to be developed with the aid of the support and services of organization and formation offered by pastoral offices of the Vicariate. Indeed, every parish community grows more united and active when it walks in affective and effective communion with its legitimate Pastors and the entire diocesan family.
Pay special attention to families, so that they may fully realize their vocation. Even if they should encounter difficulties in conjugal life or in the education of their children, may they never cease to remember the fundamental "yes" that husband and wife declared on their wedding day. God never lets those who trust in him lack the support of grace.
Dear young people, I make an appointment with you along with your other friends from other Roman parishes, for the meeting we will celebrate in St Peter's Square 21 March to prepare for the World Youth Day that will take place in Toronto this July. There is also the Diocesan Ecclesial Convention in June on the subject of vocations. Your parish community is preparing for this event with community reflection and, above all, prayer. May God raise up among you many holy priestly, religious and missionary vocations, that are essential for the life and future of the Church.
The words of the Apostle Paul in the second reading refer to the gift of the Spirit, symbolized by the living water, that Jesus promises to the Samaritan woman. The Spirit is the "pledge" of the definitive salvation that God has promised to us. Man cannot live without hope. Many hopes go down when they crash against the rocks of life. However Christian hope "does not disappoint" because it is based on the solid foundation of faith in the love of God revealed in Christ.
To Mary, Mother of hope, I entrust your parish and the Lenten journey towards Easter. May Mary, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us all to be faithful disciples of the one who makes well up in our hearts the water for eternal life (cf. Jn 4,14).
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