March 19, 2017
Third Sunday of Lent

Education experts often debate testing: when to test students, why, and how. Our readings today suggest that testing is so central to the human experience that we require proofs even from God. In the book of Exodus, Moses gives two names to the spot where God provides water from a rock: Meribah, signifying complaint or bickering, and Massah, meaning a test or proof. When the Israelites complain of their thirst, God provides proof of divine providence. Water flows from a rock, and God passes the test. In the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus passes his own test with flying colors, convincing a skeptical woman that he is indeed the Messiah. Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans guarantees Christians permanent success–not because we are good at tests, but because God is. Jesus proves God’s love once and for all by dying for us.

What does it take to convince us of the truth? Some of us need simply to hear from a trusted authority. Others need time to think an argument through for themselves, step by step. Many of us tend to learn the hard way, experiencing life’s lessons in dramatic and personal ways. Various kinds of evidence work differently on each of us. For the parched and wandering Israelites, a miraculous source of water persuades them to return to belief in God. For the Samaritan woman, Jesus’ prophetic knowledge of the intimate details of her life suffices. What will it be for us? What can convince us, forever, that God made us, saved us from death, and treasures us as beloved children? Saint Paul urges us to stop asking for proof; we need look no further than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He reminds us how unusual it is for good people to sacrifice themselves for other good people; it is utterly preposterous for a good person to give his life for “the ungodly,” for sinners. Yet that is precisely what Jesus does for us.

Our insatiable need for proof is nothing to be ashamed of. Hunger for evidence points to an active intellect. Even after we learn an important truth, we need to nurture that knowledge throughout our whole lives. Most of us first heard about Jesus when we were children. We must continue to deepen our understanding as we mature. In a similar way, the Samaritans first believe their fellow townswoman simply because of her testimony about Jesus. Then, after encountering him themselves, they are convinced Jesus is the savior of the world: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savor of the world.” Personal experience confirms and deepens their faith. “Harden not your hearts,” the Psalmist tells us. Let’s keep learning from God’s signs all around us.

Today’s Readings: Ex 17:3-7; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42
Copyright (c) J. S. Paluch Company

READINGS FOR THE WEEK–March 20 thru March 26
Monday: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29; Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22; Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Lk 2:41-51a
Tuesday: Dn 3:25, 34-43; Ps 25:4-5ab, 6, 7bc, 8-9; Mt 18:21-35
Wednesday: Dt 4:1, 5-9; Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20; Mt 5:17-19
Thursday: Jer 7:23-28; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Lk 11:14-23
Friday: Hos 14:2-10; Ps 81:6c-11ab, 14, 17; Mk 12:28-34
Saturday: Is 7:10-14, 8:10; Ps 40:7-11; Heb 10:4-10; Lk 1:26-38
Sunday: 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41


Monday: Dn 9:4b-10; Ps 79:8, 9, 11, 13; Lk 6:36-38  
 Tuesday: Is 1:10, 16-20; Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23; Mt 23:1-12  
Wednesday: Jer 18:18-20; Ps 31:5-6, 14-16; Mt 20:17-28  
Thursday:  Jer 17:5-10; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Lk 16:19-31  
Friday:  Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a; 17b-28a; Ps 105:16-21; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46  
Saturday: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20; Ps 103:1-4, 9-12; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32  
Sunday: Ex 17:3-7; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42