Third Sunday of Lent

March 19, 2017 / By: Fr. Michael Joncas

Living Water

Ex 17:3-7/Rom 5:1-2, 5-8/Jn 4:5-42

My hymn text "At Massah and Maribah" takes as its central image the contrast between the bitter waters of disbelief and the living waters of faith that figure so strongly in the readings appointed for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year A.  Stanza one is inspired by both Exodus 17:3-7 and Psalm 95 as it recounts the resistance of the Chosen People to continued travel under Moses' leadership through desert wandering from slavery in Egypt to the promised land "of milk and honey."  Stanza two looks to the narrative of the Samaritan woman encountering Jesus at the well in Sychar and focuses on the reversal of roles during the course of the lengthy dialogue between the woman and Jesus.  He comes seeking a drink and in the course of their discussion she asks him for living/flowing water, a typical Johannine pun.  Stanza three turns from the biblical narratives to prayer.  I recommend that this text be sung to KINGSFOLD, but one could substitute other CMD hymn tunes ad libitum. 

At Massah and at Maribah
God's people take a stand:
their hardened hearts no longer trust
God's providential plan.
Rejecting freedom's risky path,
they opt for slavery,
and drink the bitter waters of
their dull complacency.

A woman of Samaria comes
at noon to Jacob's well.
She meets a Jewish stranger there
who sought to drink his fill.
The dialogue they share reveals
their roles to be reversed:
for living water would she seek
and he would quench her thirst.

Too often in life’s journeying
we swallow down the lie
that floods our souls with promises
but cannot satisfy.
With parched and longing ears we come
to find a wellspring true.
O Christ, O pure and flowing grace,
your people thirst for you.

Fr. Michael Joncas
University Artist-in-Residence; Fellow, Center for Catholic Studies