A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

March 12, 2023

Lectionary 28 

Exod 17:3-7

Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

Rom 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-42

Possible preaching themes

  • Encountering of the stranger (linked to Gospel)
  • The power of hope (mostly linked to second reading)
  • The gift of water (linked to first reading and Gospel)

Possible scientific resources

Homily outline on life giving water and the stranger: squeezing water from a rock

  • The physical need for water
    • Some creatures can survive for days, weeks, even months without water
      • A cheetah for 10 days
      • a bat for 6 months
      • a desert tortoise for 1 year
      • a kangaroo rat for 10 years
    • Human beings don’t have that kind of physical tolerance
      • Generally speaking we can last a few days without water
      • That is if we are in relatively good health
    • Water is critical for our biological survival because of many characteristics
      • Its cohesive capacity to bond with other molecules
      • Its ability to support cellular structure
      • Its buffering power against dangerous effects of acids and bases
    • The United Nations estimated that in 2019 over 2 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water
  • Where did this essential life ingredient come from?
    • Water covers over 70% of the planet earth but this was not always so
    • Some scientists believe water is an alien visitor to earth
      • When 4 billion years ago
      • A heavy bombardment of countless meteors delivered oceans to earth
    • Supporting evidence is the existence of huge amounts of water in asteroids
      • Which scientists are hoping to extract
      • In order to establish infrastructures for surviving in space
    • Others belief that water was already inside our planet and came to the surface over time
      • Hydrous materials have recently been discovered inside the earth
      • Prompting some to believe that there is more water below earth’s surface than the oceans above [up to 6 quintillion gallons!]
  • Jesus as a source of living water
    • Folk wisdom teaches that you can’t get blood out of a turnip
    • Similar wisdom teaches that you can’t squeeze water from a stone
      • Though scientists are proving that wrong as well
      • Astrophysicists extracting water from meteorites
      • and hydrogeologists extracting it from the earth’s crust
    • Metaphorically one could say that the exodus people in the first reading
      • “squeezed” water out of the rock at Massah and Meribah
      • Where they “tested” the Lord
    • The Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel did not have to squeeze life-giving water out of Jesus – no one did
      • Rather Jesus freely gives his life-giving water
      • Which ironically squeezes the truth out of her
      • And liberates her for true worship and discipleship
    • Jesus’ life-giving water has notable and essential characteristics for sustaining Christian living
      • Jesus-water has a cohesive capacity, allowing even strangers to bond
      • His life-giving gift is essential for supporting the integrity of a faith community
      • His gracious abundance has its own buffering power against the acidic prejudice, violence and hatred that too often poisons our environment
    • Some of these effects are clearly on display in the gospel
      • Where his countercultural hospitality transforms not only one woman’s life
      • But opens his disciples’ eyes to the beauty of the stranger
      • And through the “holy hydration” of this one woman, an entire community is transformed into believers
  • Our Liquid Mission
    • One powerful characteristic of water is its capacity for cohesiveness
      • Sometimes called the “universal solvent”
    • The Jesus gift is a gift of cohesion, community building, and stranger welcoming
    • Jesus does this by treating each individual, like the Samaritan woman, as an individual
      • In a word he “individuates” embracing the fact that every “them” is an individual
    • In Baptism Christians not only were graced with this life-giving water
      • but also watered, nourished, hydrated for mission
      • to be a pipeline of this infinite resource to others
    • We do so by growing as a cohesive community in justice and grace
      • Jointly deploying sometimes hidden or untapped reservoirs of respect and empathy in the face of acrimony and alienation
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his ”Rime of the Ancient Mariner” memorably wrote:
    • Today we reaffirm our baptismal journey
      • In solidarity with the elect who these holy days journey toward their own initiation into Jesus’ life-giving waters at Easter
      • As we drink of this abundance in word and sacrament, in community and fellowship
      • We commit ourselves to be lifelines of justice, conduits of mercy, ambassadors of the shocking hospitality revealed in Jesus, our true source of life.


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