Monday, March 08, 2010

3rd Sunday of Lent - homily

“Obey your thirst”. This is the slogan of the soft drink, Sprite. Obey your thirst. For what do you thirst? Now, if you gave up Sprite or some other drink for Lent and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘come on, Father, back off’, I apologize. I know this will be hard for you, but please bear with me…! Actually, a good buddy of mine gave up alcohol for Lent and is having a hard time with it, as he does every year. Well, at least the first week of Lent. The day after Ash Wednesday, I asked him how it was going. He said, “38 more days!” I was thinking to myself, ‘he’s not gonna make it’. For what do you thirst? For what do college students thirst? Well, other than beer…for what did you thirst when you came to GW? Success, achievement, love, friendship, fun…all these things. My hope is that if you came thirsty for these things, you will leave thirsty for something else: the waters of eternal life.

This was the experience of the woman at the well (reading from 3rd Sunday, Year A). She came to the well looking for drinking water. She’s totally normal, looking for something good and normal. She encounters our Lord and begins a conversation with Him. He offers her something different than drinking water: the waters of eternal life. This sounds attractive and beautiful to us. The way that Jesus said it to her got her right away. It must have sounded especially attractive to her because she immediately responded to his offer with, “Sir, give me this water”. She came to the well thirsty for drinking water but, in the course of this conversation, she realized her real thirst…for Christ and eternal life. I don’t know how long this conversation lasted – maybe half an hour, maybe an hour – but it changed her life. She had an encounter with Christ and it changed her heart. It helped that Jesus revealed things about her that showed he knew her very well. She responded by believing that He is the Christ and going back to her town and telling everyone about Him.

We have some GW students her tonight who have also realized their real thirst and are obeying their thirst. They are a group of nine students who are preparing to become Catholic at Easter. They came to GW like all of you, thirsty for the things I mentioned earlier. They have realized their real thirst is for Christ. Some are thirsty for the waters of eternal life through Baptism. All are hungry and thirsy for the Eucharist. All are preparing to receive the Holy Spirit in Confirmation so they can join the Church’s mission of evangelization. They want to be like the woman at the well who went out and converted a whole town after her encounter with Christ. A whole town! Can you imagine converting your whole dorm? That would be amazing, but remember that you evangelize every time you come to Mass. It’s a great witness to Christ when you choose to come here. It takes a lot of courage to choose to go to Mass in college because you know that your friends will make comments and jokes: ‘oh, you’re a churchgoer’. You are evangelizing others, so great job!

My hope is that you all are having the experience of the woman at the well. You have come to GW thirsty for other things but have had an encounter with Christ which has revealed your real thirst. We can encounter Christ in the Eucharist, in Confession, in prayer, etc. It changes our lives when we have such an encounter with Him as it changed the life of the woman at the well. We realize that our real thirst is for Him and for eternal life. As St. Augustine (who did much partying before he realized his real thirst) said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him”.

Finally, whenever we come to Mass, we obey our thirst for the Eucharist. We satisfy our hunger and thirst; that’s why we are here. Also, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross when he said, “I thirst”. For what does Jesus thirst? When he said, “I thirst”, the people there brought him something to drink. He wasn’t talking about physical thirst. He was saying, “I thirst for souls. I thirst for hearts. I thirst for love. Your hearts thirst for me. Obey your thirst”.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Greg:

Your homily, and the one I heard at my church, got me thinking about how hard it is for most of us to really listen to Christ and follow his example. We rely on centuries of history and the Bible to explain our faith, but often get lost in the worldliness and science of our lives. The woman at the well was blessed to have a face-to-face conversation with Jesus and was converted. Jesus has conversations with us each day to bring us to the eternal waters but sometimes we just don't listen. Perhaps during this time of Lent we can loosen the external grip on our lives and realize the awesomeness of the great gift he gave us. Hopefully we'll see that his thirsting on the Cross was a simile for His thirsting for us to join him in everlasting life.

Anonymous said...

Adoration is a great place to be still and quiet and open to Christ's presence. I've found it to be the best "happy hour" available. You won't have to show ID or pay a cover charge. It fits everyone's budget.

Anonymous said...

Lacking the fortitude to give up coffee or chocolate, I too gave up alcohol for Lent.

After a frustrating back-and-forth with a programmer about a computer file I needed, I had the following conversation with the IT director, who is Catholic:

Me: I am regretting my rash decision to give up alcohol for Lent.
ITD: So have some wine.
Me: I didn't just give up liquor. I gave up alcohol.
ITD: Oh...well if you think about it LOTS of stuff has trace amounts of alcohol in them. Like some sauces. Are you giving those up too?
Me: The alcohol in sauces cooks off.
ITD: What about in chocolate?
Me: I am NOT having any "special" chocolates.
ITD: You could have an O'Doul's.
Me: I am NOT having fake beer. As a home-brewer you should be ashamed of that suggestion.
ITD: Have a glass of wine when you get home. You'll feel better.
Me: *wail* Get thee behind me, Satan!
ITD: *snurk*