The first thing he did was ask

by | Mar 17, 2014 | Formation, Reflections

Vincent EucharistThird Sunday of Lent (A), March 23, 2014 – Ex 17, 3-7; Rom 5, 1-2. 5-8; Jn 4, 5-42

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5, 8)

Jesus lives the true religion.  Those who follow his example adore the Father in Spirit and truth.

The worship the Father seeks, according to Jesus, crosses geographical lines.  It does not have to be tied to the temple in Jerusalem or to the temple in Samaria.

It also crosses gender and ethnic lines.  It is for women and men.  It does not belong exclusively to a racial group; otherwise, it would be proven false for denying the true God who shows no partiality, but accepts rather, without regard to nationality, anyone who fears him and acts uprightly.

But this impartial God shows a clear preferential option for those in the “outskirts.”  He rescues the weak from the strong and the poor from the oppressor.  He demands that orphans, widows and foreigners not be oppressed and that their rights to things they need in order to live be respected.  And he swears by his life that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

This God, of course, is revealed by Jesus who is at the Father’s side.  He reveals him through words and deeds:  he teaches in synagogues and proclaims the Gospel, he cures every disease and illness; he eats with tax collectors and sinners, and makes it clear that he has not come to call the righteous but sinners, and to offer himself for the forgiveness of sins.

In effect, Jesus teaches that there is opportunity to render worship to God where there is need.  If we know, by God’s gift, who is asking us for water at the hottest time of the day, we will end up asking him and he will give us living water:  he will lead us to true worship, tell us everything, things that pertain to peace and justice as well as to sexual morality (to which, unfortunately, we tend to reduce the Good News); he will conscientize us, reveal himself as the Son of Man, for whom it is enough to use as basis for final judgment the question of whether we shall have ministered or not to the least of his brothers and sisters.

The pure religion is near us, which consists in caring for orphans and widows in their affliction and keeping oneself unstained by the world that fosters greed, which, in turn, gives rise to divisions, wars, miseries and injustices.  It is practiced by the poor who, in contrast to those who grumbled in the wilderness, do not complain amidst their afflictions and needs, as St. Vincent de Paul knew by experience (Coste XI, 201; XII, 171).  Nor do they despair when they are left unattended, for example, in the Land Transportation Office, in the Philippines, because they just have 584 Philippine pesos, enough to pay for the license to drive a motorcycle, and they lack the 1,416 demanded as a bribe.

It would be hard to flee from the marginalized.  If we reconcile with them to form one body through the cross, our offering, our religion, will be undefiled before God.

Ross Reyes Dizon