Jesus Thirsts for Us

User’s Guide to Sunday, March 4

Guercino (1591-1666), Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well
Guercino (1591-1666), Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (photo: Public domain)

Sunday, March 4, is the Third Sunday of Lent (Year B), but I will be using the readings from (Year A). Mass Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42.

During the holy season of Lent, the Church permits the use of the Lectionary readings from Year A. This is done for a specific purpose. On the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, the Church, in preparing catechumens for baptism and to receive confirmation and their first Holy Communion, uses what we refer to as “Scrutiny” readings.

These are also used to help prepare those who have already received the sacrament of baptism, but are now official candidates for coming into full communion with the Catholic Church, to receive the sacraments of penance and reconciliation (confession), confirmation and the Holy Eucharist.

That being said, these “Scrutiny” readings are not merely for catechumens and candidates, but for all the baptized and fully initiated into the Church.

Why does the Church call these Sundays of Lent “Scrutiny Sundays”? When we hear the word — “scrutiny” — we might not have positive experiences. To be under scrutiny can bring fear and anxiety.

But the Church intends to place no person in fear or anxiety. Quite the opposite: The Church desires that those who are preparing to receive the sacraments have freedom to do so. The Church uses these readings to help remove obstacles that may be in the way of a person receiving the grace of the sacraments.

The “Scrutiny Gospel” for this Third Sunday of Lent focuses on the Samaritan Woman at the Well. Take some time to read through the entire account (John 4:5-42).

Samaritans were outsiders. They were not of the Chosen People. In going to the well, this woman already has two strikes against her — she is an outsider and she is a woman. The Samaritan Woman came to the well at a time where she knew she would be alone.

But Jesus breaks through the cultural barriers and speaks with her: “Give me a drink.” 

The point of this reading is to awaken and to stir within those preparing for baptism and the other sacraments a thirst for Jesus, who truly satisfies:  “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

A question we might ask is: Was the Lord Jesus just thirsty for water?  He was tired and thirsty after a long journey. But there is something deeper than bodily thirst.

Many spiritual writers and theologians of the Church have connected this passage to the cry of the Lord Jesus on the cross — “I thirst.”

Obviously, during his passion, he was thirsty for water, after enduring brutal torture and hanging on the cross for three hours. But he was also thirsty for you and for me — for our response to him and for our love in return!

God thirsts for us!

As we continue this journey of Lent, while taking up penances and denying ourselves creature comforts, our bodies may start to crave what we are used to consuming.

In those circumstances, think of the thirst of the Lord Jesus. His thirst for us gives new perspective on any thirst, bodily or spiritual, that we might have.

Father John Paul Mary Zeller is a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word

and resides in Irondale, Alabama, the home of EWTN. He was commissioned a “missionary of mercy” by Pope Francis in 2016.

 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco celebrates the ‘Mass of the Americas’ using the extraordinary form of the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2019.

Msgr. Charles Pope and Limiting the Latin Mass (July 24)

Historically, changes to worship have always cause intense reaction. Reaction to Pope Francis’ decree Traditionis Custodes limiting the use of the Traditional Latin Mass is no different. Msgr. Charles Pope helps us sift through the concern and frustrations many Catholics have we expressed. Then, in an Editor’s Corner, Matthew Bunson, executive editor for EWTN News, and Jeanette De Melo discuss the Napa Institute conference and a roundup of Catholic news.

Photo portrait of American poet and Catholic convert Wallace Stevens (1879–1955).

The Art of Catholic America (July 17)

Art, music, literature — in a word, beauty — have in the life and history of Catholicism been a great evangelizing force. For a lesson in this we often turn to the lasting masterpieces and legacy of Christendom in Europe. But what about on our own shores: Is there an imprint on the U.S. from American painters, poets and the like who were Catholic? On Register Radio, we explore American artists and Catholicism in the U.S. with Robert Royal, founder and editor in chief of The Catholic Thing. Then we look at the ways the sexual revolution has impacted the professions — particularly education, psychology and medicine — with Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute.