REDEMPTION IS GOD’S INITIATIVE AND IS GIVEN

TO HUMANKIND BY CHRIST

 

            Third Sunday of Lent

February 26, 1978

 

 

Readings:

Exodus 17:3-7

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-42

 

My dear sisters and brothers.

 

Introduction: our spiritual pilgrimage to Easter

 

During this season of Lent, true Christians are mindful of the fact that they are on a spiritual pilgrimage toward a well defined goal:  the celebration of Easter.  Easter (the remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ) will be fruitful for us to the degree that we make our Lenten spiritual journey a true longing for redemption and eternal life.  Since every pilgrimage must be undertaken in the midst of present day realities, we run the risk of becoming distracted on the journey and losing our way.  Therefore, each Sunday we pause to reflect on the light of the Word of God that guides us.  At the same time, we also reflect on the realities that surround us so that they too might be enlightened by God’s Word.  As Lenten pilgrims, we might pose the question:  how should we view the realities of our surroundings?

 

Events of the week

 

An expression of Canada’s solidarity with the Archdiocese

 

Today we greet with fraternal love our brother priest from Canada, Father William Smith, from the Diocese of Prull, Quebec.  Father Smith brings us greetings from his Bishop and so together with the whole Archdiocese of San Salvador I feel encouraged by this expression of solidarity.  We give thanks to the Lord for the countless number of fraternal gestures that we have received during these days --- expressions of solidarity from so many bishops and communities and Christians from other parts of the world.  Thus as we concelebrate the Mass this morning, we are aware of the fact that we do not journey alone, but rather that we are on pilgrimage with all those who sincerely desire to think with the Church.

 

Prophetic gestures from Nicaragua and France

 

Within this international context, I want to highlight two specific events.  We have received news from Nicaragua that a radio station was fined because they transmitted the Pastoral Letter of the Bishops who stated that they could not remain silent before the injustices and violations of the human rights of the people of Nicaragua.  We have also received news that the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris refused to celebrate a Mass that had been requested by the government of Argentina to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of General San Martín.  Two religious women from France have “disappeared” and the Cardinal wants this situation to be clarified.  My sisters and brothers, these prophetic gestures support the attitude of our Archdiocese that wishes to remain faithful to the Gospel.  It is beautiful to see how our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua are assisting in the payment of this fine that was imposed on a radio station that wanted to express its solidarity with the voice of the Episcopal Conference.

 

Fires in San Salvador

 

During this week we have also seen a reaction --- hopefully it is an effective and healthy reaction --- to this wave of fires that have occurred in San Salvador.  From the Church’s perspective I want to remind you of the following:  those who damage the property of another are obliged to pay restitution.  We do not know the causes behind these fires --- all of that remains a mystery --- but if these fires have been set deliberately in order to harm another person, then the criminal, the one who has set these fires, is obliged in conscience to make restitution for the fraud and damage that has been caused by these fires.  Our moral position is firm in this regard.  Indeed, a person who has committed such an action, in order to receive sacramental absolution, must agree to some form of restitution --- otherwise such a person cannot be absolved.

 

Announcement concerning the seminar on educational reform

 

It has been announced that during the coming months a seminar on educational reform will be held.  Through the media we know that the following have been invited to participate in this seminar:  the President of the Chamber of Commerce, the President of ANEP (National Private Business Association) and the rector of the National University.  We hope that the Church’s experience in the field of education will be recognized because the exclusion of the Church from this seminar could be fatal to the whole process.  This reform that is so important for the people who are overwhelmingly Catholic will be only a partial reform if the voice of the Church is not heard.

 

Labor conflicts

 

We hear of many abnormalities at our Legal Aid Office.  There has been no solution to the labor conflict that is occurring at the Izalco refinery and also no solution to the present situation of the construction workers.  There are also complaints from the campesinos who are looking for land and those who could provide this land so that these people could sustain their families.  With the arrival of the rains, anxiety is very high since now these farmers have no lands to plant which in turn makes their family life very precarious.  I want to remind you of the words of Pope Paul VI who wrote: He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him? (Populorum Progressio, #23 [cf. 1 John 3:17]).  The Pope goes on to say:  No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good. When private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another, it is for the public authorities to seek a solution to these questions with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups (Populorum Progressio, #23).

 

Denunciation of arrests and disappearances

 

Many letters that speak of the arrests and disappearances in the different communities also arrive at our offices.  Among the many letters that arrived at the Chancery concerning Amnesty International and the many cases of people who have disappeared, I want to highlight the case of Lil Milagro Ramírez.  I was deeply moved by a letter that was written to me by a Christian in France.  She said:  Bishop, I am a Christian and I write to you to express my support for the abolition of torture.  We are separated by a great distance and so the only thing I can do at the present is write to you and direct my word to a minister of Jesus Christ.  You do understand my call, don’t you?   How could I not understand her call.  Thanks to God we have always spoken out against torture.  Now this international support gives us strength to pose the same question that we have asked many times before:  where are the persons who have disappeared?  As we meet with the family members of people who have been captured or have disappeared, we feel frustrated for it appears that we confront a smoke screen when the authorities deny these cruel abuses.  Please give us information about these cases.  Where are these men and women?

 

Gratitude for the homage that was given to me on the first anniversary of my installation as Archbishop of San Salvador

 

My dear sisters and brothers, within this framework, and as Church, I want to mention an historical event that occurred.  I thank the members of this Archdiocese, the priests, religious and laity, for the kind homage that was shown to me on February 22nd, the first anniversary of my installation as Archbishop of this Diocese.  On that day, when we celebrated the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter and here in the cathedral, the priests expressed their solidarity with their bishop.  I give thanks for this unity of our Archdiocese.  I also want to thank Father Jesús Delgado for his words, words that naturally some considered offensive and inappropriate.  We understand this and therefore we proclaim these words of Jesus: If your eye was well, your whole being would be enlightened, but since your intentions are evil and compromised, everything disturbs you.

 

Anyway, as I said the other night, I do not want to become some idol.  Never allow me to become an idol of the masses and deceive them.  Scripture tells us:  cursed are those who find their support in the flesh.  I repeat what I said on the occasion of the conferral my honorary doctorate, namely, I want to be a sign like John the Baptist:  may my person decrease and may the eternal Word of Jesus’ message increase.  If I were honored personally, how fast would I flee from such honors!  But when this honor is focused on Christ, the Good Shepherd, then I must accept such honors and like a freshly cut rose, present these honors to the Divine Priest, Christ, our Lord.  Therefore my gratitude is rooted in our faith and is also an invitation to continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship with the bishop, so that together we might offer ourselves to the One who is the center of our religion, the divine savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Announcement concerning the celebration of the first anniversary of the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande

 

United in faith, I want to announce that we are going to celebrate the anniversary of the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande and the two campesinos, Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus.  The exact date of the anniversary is March 12th, but so that we are not seen as acting with ill-will, we are going to anticipate the actual day.  Next Sunday, March 5th, we will celebrate a Mass in Paisnal and on Saturday, March 11th, we will celebrate a Mass here in the cathedral at noon --- the brother priests of Father Grande will concelebrate the Eucharist.  My sisters and brothers, we have an obligation to remember the courage and commitment of Father Grande so that this voice that ome people wanted to silence through violence might continue to cry out like Jesus: do not fear those who can kill only the body but leave the eternal Gospel and the Word alive in our midst (cf. Matthew 10:28).

 

Celebration for those who have fallen in the Plaza Libertad

 

We have also been asked to celebrate Mass in the parish of El Rosario on February 28th in memory of those who died in the Plaza Libertad. I want to make it clear that the Church simply desires to pray for those who have died.  When we are dealing with people who died as a result of violence, then we must speak of this reality, for as we have said on many occasions, there can never be peace as long as people attempt to establish this peace through repression.  There will only be peace when the human rights of people are respected --- among these rights is the natural right to participate in politics and the government.  For in this way people are able to use their God given gifts and work together for the common good of the nation.

 

When some people believe that they are irreplaceable and when others refuse to allow their sisters and brothers to collaborate in the political process, then this is abusive and, as the Pope says, results in painful situation that are lamented as the results of violence.  The Lord desires that these prayers for Father Grande and his companions, as well as the suffrages for our other sisters and brothers who have died --- the Lord wants these prayers to be understood as true messages of the Church.  Let it be very clear:  the Church’s objective is religious and from this religious perspective, this union with God, this prayer of hers, she derives her extension into the social, political and economic arenas.  Every group that seeks liberation, as well as every political party and group that seeks earthly objectives should not manipulate the Church and her lofty religious objectives.  No one has the right to confuse the religious ends of the Church when they coincide with the temporal ends of their group.  The Church has a transcendent mission and today, the Word of God speaks clearly about this reality.

 

Ecclesial events

 

I want to extend a warm greeting to the communities that gave me such a kind reception this week.  The community of Llanitos, a wonderful village in Ayutuxtepeque; the parish of Concepción where we initiated a clinic with the generous assistance of several doctors; San Matías where Father Guardado and the people of the community gave us a warm reception as we celebrated their patron’s feast; Monte San Juan, a picturesque village where a beautiful church was built and which parish is now being administered by Father Antonio Alfaro.  How we rejoiced in the company of these women and men!  We also greet the members of the Christian Cursillo Movement who in their meeting on Monday recommended an on-going formation of Christian renewal that is in accord with the actual demands of the Church.  We ask you to pray for the health of our beloved brother, Father Uberto Calderón, who is hospitalized in the Polyclinic.  I also ask you to pray and participate in the preparations that are being undertaken in all of Latin America for the realization of the Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops --- this conference will take place in October in Puebla, Mexico.  The clergy, men and women religious, and all the laity must be attentive and contribute to this gathering in accord with their competency.  In this way the meeting of the bishops will become the voice of the authentic concerns of the evangelization process in Latin America.

 

  1. A sign of redemption for the People of God in the desert

 

I told you, my sisters and brothers, that today’s sacred word follows an outline that was formed many years ago.  Indeed, it is like a directory, a school outline that is offered to the catechumens.  They were the ones preparing to receive baptism on Holy Saturday.  Thanks to God, we have been baptized but during this season of Lent, the Second Vatican Council invites us to become more aware of our Baptism (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, # 109).  We were baptized, but were unaware of what was happening and so each year Lent provides us with the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be baptized.  Thus the readings that in former times were selected for the catechumens, also have meaning for us today.  These readings speak to us about baptism and, in a very attractive form, place before us the history of salvation.

 

Remember that two weeks ago, the first Sunday of Lent, we saw the beginning of salvation history in the act of creation, Adam and Eve, Paradise, the fall and the promise of redemption.  Last week, we highlighted the person of Abraham, the one who was chosen to form a People of God --- from the midst of whom would arise the promised One, the redeemer of the people, Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham and the son of David.  Today a third person is presented to us: Moses.

 

Moses, the figure-instrument of God to free the People of God

 

My sisters and brothers, I invite you to read the book of Exodus during this week.  Biblical scholars tell us the Exodus event of the Old Testament is like the incarnation event of the New Testament.  The gospel has no meaning without the angel’s announcement to Mary that she is to be the mother of God.  So, too, the ancient history of the Bible is rooted in God’s initiative to form a people, to lead them from bondage in Egypt to freedom, and to establish a covenant with the people.  The central figure of the Exodus event, the person-instrument of God to realize the covenant and the liberation of this people, the one chosen to form this people that is distinguished by its laws and institutions is Moses --- the pillar of the Old Testament.  Since Lent is a time that prepares us to celebrate the fruit of our redemption, we cannot move through this season of Lent without speaking some words about Moses.  In the history of salvation persons appear who foretell and announce this redemption.  Moses is presented to us today like a flash of lightening.  Moses strikes the rock with his rod and miraculous waters spring forth from the rock.

 

The attitude of the People of God, dying of thirst in the desert

 

In order to understand the beauty of this figure, we must remember the framework in which this event occurred.  The people had fled Egypt and found themselves in the desert.  In an almost blasphemous way they cried out: Is God with us or not? He is going to allow us to die of thirst here in desert! It would have been better if we had never left Egypt (cf. Exodus 17:1-3).  How difficult the people can be for those persons who wish to redeem them.  So Moses lifts up his voice toward God (indeed, prayer is the escape of all the prophets):  What shall I do with this people?  A little more and they will stone me! (Exodus 17:4).  God, with the serenity of one who is all-mighty and as one who guides the people along difficult paths that appear impossible to the people --- this God calms Moses.

 

My sisters and brothers, the attitude of the people dying of thirst of in the desert will later become the history of Israel, the history of this people of the steppes and of this people dwelling in an arid place.  The water that our thirsty mouths drink with such longing has a unique language.  In this context the figure of Moses takes on the role of a liberator who transmits to future generations the meaning of redemption.

 

  1. The redemption that Christ brings to the world:  let those who thirst, come to me and drink (cf. John 4:13)

 

Therefore when Christ, our Lord, wants to explain the meaning of the redemption that he gives to humankind as a gift, he uses the following words:  let those who are thirsty come to me and drink (cf. John 4:13).   I believe that among Jesus’ many different explanations of redemption, none is more beautiful than that which was read today from the gospel of John concerning the Samaritan woman.

 

The responsibility of receiving baptism

 

The gospel passage presents us with a beautiful catechesis concerning Baptism.  If we want to understand what Christ did with us at the time when our parents brought us to the Church to be baptized, then we simply have to read this passage about the Samaritan woman.  We will see why we have reason to give thanks to God for being a people that have been baptized.  It is a shame, my sisters and brothers, that as a result of our baptism we live with such an exalted dignity and yet so many people do not understand the meaning of that important moment in their life.  For many people it is simply some childhood remembrance and does not lead them to be grateful to God nor does it lead them to a deeper commitment with our Lord.

 

Thanks to God many communities today are studying and reflecting in depth on the responsibilities of baptism.  For this reason, my sisters and brothers, we insist --- and listen to this well --- today we insist that those who wish to baptize their children must first participate in some type of preparation.  Baptism is not some social event, or an occasion to have a celebration in the house, or a time to enter into a relationship with godparents who perhaps will provide us with some social or political advantage.  No, that is not baptism!  Baptism creates a new relationship with God, with the One who is born of flesh and blood.  Listen to how Jesus instructs this woman and ultimately changes her heart.

 

Christ teaches us to transcend the present reality

 

The scene begins with a physiological need:  Give me to drink (John 4:7).  A woman, carrying her bucket to the well encounters a Jew who speaks to her: Give me to drink because I am thirsty (cf. John 4:7).  It was about noon (John 3:6).  Yes, Jesus was thirsty and Jesus asked this Samaritan woman for water.  The first impulse of that woman --- thinking of human, political relationships --- is summed up in her words:  How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? [For Jews have nothing in common with Samaritans] (John 4:9).  Jesus uses this reality as a starting point to orient her and guide her to transcendence.  If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, “give me a drink,” you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).   The Samaritan woman, however, still is seeing reality in material terms:  Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well? (John 4:11). 

 

Humankind’s vision is quite limited when viewing things from too close a perspective, from the world’s view of reality.  Therefore, I told you before, do not confuse Christ’s perspective with the perspective of other human beings; do not confuse temporal, economical, social and political liberation with Christian liberation.  Sadly these are the slanderous words that are used when speaking about the Church since people are confused about her transcendent, rightful intentions.  These people who slander the Church in this way appear on the scene like the Samaritan woman and believe that the Church is meddling in politics and that the Church is subversive and is concerned about only those who are poor.

 

My sisters and brothers, this is the limited vision of earthly liberation.  When a group that is looking for liberation attempts to manipulate the Church, they are in fact abusing the Church, and the Church will not allow this to happen.  The same is also true about those groups that are in positions of power, political or otherwise, and want to use the Church in order to achieve their objectives.  Once again the Church cannot allow this to happen.  Christ does not want people to forget about the perspective of eternity and in fact offers the Samaritan woman a new perspective on life.  Jesus says that it is better to sacrifice the thirst of one’s throat than to betray this perspective of eternity, this perspective of the One who desires to satisfy the thirst of that woman who has thirst for many things much more serious than bodily thirst.

 

Christ enters into a relationship of faith with us

In the second scene, Christ raises up the Samaritan woman and invites her to enter into a relationship of faith.  Christ speaks to the woman and says:  Go call your husband and come back (John 4:16).  The woman is honest and says:  I do not have a husband (John 4:17).  Jesus is also honest and responds: You are right in saying, “I do not have a husband.”  For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband (John 4:17-18).  How sad it is to encounter people who believe that they are not thirsting for spiritual realities yet they are dying in moral misery!

 

For this reason, the Church relates to those groups that seek worldly liberation and attempts to share with them a transcendent meaning in order to speak with them: do not be content with earthly matters; look beyond all of this.  Then when the Samaritan woman is surprised in the intimacy of her heart, she says: Sir, I see that you are a prophet (John 4:19).  Then perhaps as someone who at first wanted to avoid this conversation, she leads Jesus into a discussion of a prophetical theme and tells him:  Sit, I see that you are a prophet.  What do you think about this controversy between Jesus and Samaritans?  You, the Jews, say that God has to be worshipped in Jerusalem, in the Temple, and we say that God should be worshipped right here (cf. John 4:19-20).  Here refers to the place where Jacob’s well is located, the foot of Mount Gerizim, where according to the tradition of the Samaritans, the People of God built the first altars.  Jesus responds with a freedom that should inspire all the children of God:  Do not focus on religious controversies, for the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem … true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth (John 4:21-23).  God is spirit and does not need temples/churches/buildings.  Like all other earthly temples, so too the Temple in Jerusalem has a relative meaning.  So they rob the churches in Quezaltepeque, so what?  Let them steal our material churches, the Church’s history is full of that.  That is not why the Church is on earth.  The Church is something different says Christ: the Church seeks adorers of God in spirit and in truth, and that can be done under a tree, on a mountain, by the sea (cf. John 4:23-24) --- for wherever there is an honest heart that seeks God sincerely, there is true religion. 

 

This, my friends, scandalizes many because many have wanted to tie the Church to these material things.  They call this prestige, and faithfulness to their traditions.  But it can be a betrayal of the Church’s truth.  God is spirit and does not need the powers and things of earth.  He seeks sincerity of heart.  A call is extended to the Samaritan woman to change and put aside for a moment her traditions and controversies.  Now this woman, this sinner, is approaching the place where Jesus wants to find her.

 

 

 

Christ reveals himself to those who convert

 

Thus the interesting dialogue at the well concludes with the expression of the following concern spoken by the Samaritan woman: I know that the Messiah is coming… when he comes, he will tell us everything (John 4:25).  The beauty of all of this is seen in Jesus’ words:  I am he, the one who is speaking with you (John 4:26).  What an incredible revelation.  In the midst of the misery, limited vision and reality of the world, people come to discover that, little by little, they have been raised up by this Christ.  This Christ is discovered in the depths of their conscience:  I am he, the one who is speaking with you (John 4:26).  My dear sisters and brothers, today each one of us --- if we have come here to this celebration of the Mass with faith, then we will encounter Christ.

 

For this reason I say to you that my person and human words are not as important as my message concerning the mystery of Christ.  For as a French woman told me:  you are the voice of that hidden One who wants to have an encounter with all people.   Hopefully my poor words awaken this concern in many people who, like the Samaritan woman, desire redemption but look for it in the water in the well, in a well of this earth and have not been raised up with Christ to encounter him in the beauty of true redemption --- I am he, the one who is speaking with you (John 4:26).

 

Those who encounter Christ become his apostles

 

When the woman discovers that she has encountered the One whom her people had awaited for so many years, she lays aside her bucket --- now she has more than enough buckets.  She runs to the city of Shechem and announces:  Come see a man who told me everything I have done.  Could he possibly be the Messiah?  (John 4:29).  She is not embarrassed by her sins.

 

My sisters and brothers, the Church is not embarrassed by her sins for she understands that she is human and is composed of people like you and me, fragile and miserable people. When our enemies throw our sins in our faces, they do not realize that they are in fact speaking to us in an authentic way.  Yes, we are a Church that is composed of men and women; we are a fragile Church, a Church of sinners, a Church of the Samaritan woman who tells her fellow citizens: he told me that I am not married and that I have had four men.  He told me the truth.  Come and see! (John 4:39).

 

When this discovery of our miserable condition is received with humility and illuminated with faith, when there is good will, then my sisters and brothers, Christ is found and is found even in the Church with all of her defects.  But when the eye is infected, when those who slander us have evil intentions, when people are paid to slander us and radio commentators sell their voice and no longer defend the truth, then there is no sincerity and no conversion.  Jesus speaks to these people and says:  Noy everyone will receive this message and word with good faith.

 

 

 

Now is the Church’s hour

 

Thus the Samaritan woman has become an apostle and like an apostle has attracted the masses to Christ.  We come, then, to the final scene of this dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  We could call this final scene: the Church’s hour.  For it is no longer Jesus who personally preaches, but rather his Word is proclaimed through the person of the Samaritan woman and now his Word is proclaimed through the life of all those persons who believe in him.  The masses came to Jesus to become convinced and believe.  They said to the Samaritan woman:  we no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world (John 4:42). My sisters and brothers, this is how every act of faith concludes.  It might begin with the advice of a mother or a spouse or a friend, it might begin because of something that is read in a book --- for at times, as we read, certain questions are raised --- this process is so difficult to explain.  But we begin to look for something.  Then a moment arrives and it is no longer our mother or spouse or friend who is talking to us, but rather we hear most clearly: I am he [the Messiah], the one who is speaking with you in the silence of your prayer, in the silence of this Church, in the sincerity of your heart.  We have found one another and you are a Christian (cf. John 4:26).  This is what Lent is all about.  When Jesus concludes his conversation, he addresses the apostles:  Lift up your eyes and look at the fields of Gerizim --- fields that have been maintained with the water from this well.  Do you not say that there are four months between planting and harvesting?  Therefore I say to you that God plants all of this.  God plants the wheat fields of the Church and does not need time to plant the seed or time to allow it to mature because the one harvesting is receiving the payment for the one who planted (John 4:35-38)This is the work of God, the Church’s hour.

 

My sisters and brothers, here in the Archdiocese, Christ invites us to lift up our eyes.  Look at how the corn is being prepared for harvesting.  Look at how the fields are being fertilized and still people are being persecuted.  As the fertilizer becomes a harvest, so too those who are persecuted and misunderstood are producing abundant fruit.  This is the Church’s hour.

 

  1. Salvation is God’s initiative 

 

Therefore my sisters and brothers, I conclude with a reflection on the second reading in which Saint Paul describes for us the secret of the Church’s harvest.  Why did the Samaritan woman convert?  Only a few months ago a number of people distanced themselves from the Church, why have they now returned?  Why do we find conversion and repentance in the heart of the sinners, the foolish and young people?  How wonderful it is to see that these young men and women, who before squandered their love and youth, are now discovering this noble faith of the Kingdom of God.  They are discovering this faith in their thirst --- a thirst that arises from their dissatisfaction with earthly goods, passions and immorality.  These are communities of young men and women, of young married couples and they represent the harvest that everywhere is begging for hands so that the harvest might be brought in.  Why? Saint Paul tells us today:  the initiative is God’s.

 

The infinite love of God

 

In this way we come to know the infinite love of God.  Therefore, as Holy Week approaches, let us meditate on this reality, especially as we contemplate (as the poet says) the man from Nazareth, robed in purple* who passes in front of us.  Let us not view these beautiful celebrations of Holy Week as some form of poetry or some folklore that is particular to our land.  As Saint Paul tells us in today’s reading, let us be mindful of God’s infinite love as we behold the image of the Nazarene, the image of the crucified Jesus, and the image of the risen Jesus: God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  Who would offer up their life for another person?  Saint Paul says: for a good person, one might find the courage to die (Romans 5:8), but to give one’s life, to offer up the life of God, and do this for a sinner --- this is the foolishness of love, the foolishness of God’s love.  God has no bitterness toward us, the first sinners, nor toward those who were even more sinful because they were aware of the beam in their own eye and yet attempted to remove the speck from their neighbor’s eye.

 

We are all sinners and we all have to return to God.  This is the call that the Church extends to all her children --- her most holy and her most sinful children --- to those who do not belong to the kingdom --- to everyone.  The Church wants them to imitate the Lord who gave his life for his enemies so that they might be converted.  This is Christ’s love.

 

Conversion

 

Now conversion.  In today’s second reading, Saint Paul describes the psychological state of the Samaritan woman.  Look, my sisters and brothers, and compare the woman’s sprit at the moment when she first came to the well and then later, when she returned to her village.  Saint Paul wrote in the letter that we listened to this morning:  we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).  How beautiful is life when we experience that interior peace and that hope in the gifts of the future.  How courageous are Christians!  They have no fear of arms or torture or abuses for they are at peace as they speak the truth.  They hope for a reward because they have been faithful here on earth.  This was the hope of the Samaritan woman and all those who converted have the same hope.

 

A thought to bring to the altar

My homily today is directed to those who have been baptized as well as those who are still not baptized and it is also directed to those who have been faithful to as well as those who have betrayed their baptism, and my homily is meant as a calling:  Come to us during this time of Holy Week!  Perhaps you are distracted like the Samaritan woman and are looking for the water of this earth but also have a desire to find that water that springs forth into eternal life.  On this Holy Saturday, let us remember that the baptism that was conferred on us many years ago has become a fountain of living water flowing in the intimacy of our interior.  There we carry this living water, so why are we dying of thrist?  Be aware of this living water flowing within!  Live this reality!  Let it flourish!  This is the Holy Week that we desire.



*   Translator’s Note:  I do not know what poem is being referred to here.