Friday, March 20, 2020

Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent, 2020

I know this is a bit late for last Sunday. I was sick (yes again) and was unable to say Mass or give a homily to my people. It was a bit disappointing to prepare a homily and then find that I was unable to deliver it. Therefore, although this is not the way I normally do it, I have decided to rework that homily into a post here and give it to you. In the future, since I cannot now say public Mass on Sunday and give my weekly homily, I will be writing them out and posting them here so that those who are interested can read them. 

So, here goes . . .

"More than she bargained for"

There was once a wealthy man sitting in his new $11,000,000 home that had just been finished a few days before. He was entertaining guests and it happened to be raining. He noticed after just a few minutes that the roof was leaking directly on his head where he was sitting on his $5,000 couch. So he quickly calls the contractor who had built the house and starts yelling and complaining. The contractor simply says, “I don't see what the problem is; just move your couch.”

That is not exactly the solution to the problem, but we all know what it is like when we do not want to admit our faults and failures. In the gospel for the the third Sunday of Lent, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well, and she clearly does not want to admit her faults (and they were apparently many).

The Samaritans had a vague and incomplete view of God and religion. They were confused in many areas, but Jesus does not confront her in that regard. No, rather He chooses to do spiritual surgery and make her open her soul to Him. He shows her that He already knows her sins, and when she realizes that she cannot hide anything from Jesus, at that point she also recognizes the reality that He is her Savior. In fact, we could say that she had no real peace until she admitted her sins. We often think the opposite: we can have peace if we hide our sins and go on with life. That is not what Jesus was doing for her; He was telling her that Confession and honesty about sin are the only ways to find peace.

In our first reading for this last Sunday we read of people who were fretting about whether God really cared for them. In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that we find true peace only in Christ. These two, tied together, are saying the same thing that the Gospel is saying. Apart from God we fret and worry; when we come to Him in humble honesty, then we find real peace. We can only find that peace, though, if we are willing for Christ to do a work of spiritual surgery on our souls like He did for the Samaritan woman. No, the place and manner of surgery might not be the same for us as for her, but Jesus knows where to operate.

Many today are worried about the coronavirus, and that is something we genuinely should be concerned about. Yet, much more should we be concerned about our spiritual health. Do not allow any worries or concerns that you have about physical well being overshadow the importance of your eternal soul. The Samaritan woman had done something in her life that enabled (or forced) her to ignore her sins, and Jesus made her give it up.

She came to the well thinking that all she needed was physical water, and she got far more than she bargained for. The Lord knew what she really needed. Somehow that was the right moment for her, and she was open to hearing what Jesus had to say. Are you open right now for the Lord to speak to you? Are you willing to confess your sins to Him and have Him do a spiritual surgery for the healing of your soul?

Only when we let Christ look within can we be healed by Him and find that peace that He offers. Denial is no way to find peace; the sacrament of Confession is how God communicates His grace of forgiveness to us. Do not presume that because a penance service was cancelled, that you cannot go to confession. All priests can still hear confessions by appointment. If you have not yet gone to confession during Lent, call me; call one of my brother priests; set up an appointment. Open yourself to the Lord, and He will grant you His "pardon and peace".