WITH ST. MARY'S
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
We thirst and hunger for the sacraments which Christ has given to us as a gift.
THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
Every single Christian came into the Church the same way: Baptism. Whether it is through water or their own blood in martyrdom, Christians begin their journey of emulating Christ and following God through this first sacrament. After Baptism, we are called to participate more deeply in the sacramental life, and we are nourished by Christ offering himself in the Eucharist, which he referred to as the living bread which came down from Heaven. Just as it is customary and necessary to wash oneself before participating in a meal, we are called to wash ourselves in the “living water” of Baptism before participating in the Feast of the “living bread.”
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
We hear this term “living water” in this Sunday’s Gospel as a response from Jesus to the Samaritan woman he encounters at the well of Jacob. This scene occurs in the Gospel of John not too long before he spoke of himself as the “living bread that came down from heaven” during the Bread of Life discourse after his miraculous multiplication of the loaves. In that scene, Jesus very clearly affirms that he himself is the living bread; in this scene, though, he tells the woman that he gives to others the living water as a gift. Christ also tells her that, because she is not Jewish, she worships what she does not understand, whereas the Jews worship what they do understand because salvation comes from them. In this moment as he confirms that he is in fact the Messiah to this woman, he opens up salvation and knowledge of how we should worship to all people who worship the Father in Spirit and truth. There is no litmus test, no exclusivity, and no barrier for any soul who desires to seek after salvation other than conforming oneself entirely to the truth of God. This Truth of God is expressed in His Law, His Sacraments, His Son, the Water by which we enter into this relationship, and the Bread by which we are sustained. It all begins, though, with the water of life - the waters of baptism. When we unite this Gospel scene to the first and second readings for this Sunday, we are simultaneously reminded of the life-giving elements that God has granted us and we are warned of growing complacent with being the recipients of such gifts. Paul tells us in his epistle to the Romans that we have been justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, who died for us sinners. As we know, though, that true faith can only be expressed in perfect loving action, we are taught by some of the great saints the extent to which we are able to reciprocate Christ’s sacrifice for us - through the shedding of our own innocent blood for his sake. Through the act of martyrdom, the blood of the innocent becomes the living water Christ spoke about to the Samaritan woman.
Christ's words at the well of Jacob become even more significant when we compare his revelation to the Samaritan woman with the story from the first reading, when the ungrateful Israelites ask for water while wandering through the desert. God still grants them what they ask for, having Moses strike a rock until water flows from it. The ingratitude of the Israelites should hit home for us as Christians; how many times do we also grumble at our dissatisfaction with life? How often do we forget what God has done for us? We came into this world thirsting after the living waters of baptism because of Original Sin. It does not matter when we drink from the cup that Christ offers to us, as long as we accept the gift with gratitude. We must not grow complacent or dissatisfied with what Christ offers. He had to shed his own blood for us to drink of the living water. We celebrate being cleaned by this water by sitting down together and sharing in the living bread that came down from Heaven.
Family activity to do at home: Baptism begins our sacramental life, though any of us who were born into Catholicism likely do not remember our baptisms. We were not able to offer consent to the promises of Baptism because we were so young, and were therefore dependent on our parents to consent on our behalf. Part of offering consent for your child at baptism is also the promise to teach them in the ways of the Church and to make sure that they come to know and love the Lord according to their own free will. This requires proper formation. Below, you can find a well-formulated way to explain the Mass and the Sacraments to your children. Doing so will ensure that their consciences are properly formed and that they will have the fortitude to choose to love and serve Christ when they are capable of doing so for themselves.