Third Sunday of Lent (A)
March 12, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.




O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,
who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving
have shown us a remedy for sin,
look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,
that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,
may always be lifted up by your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)

O God, the fountain of life,
to a humanity parched with thirst
you offer the living water of grace
which springs up from the rock, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Grant your people the gift of your Spirit,
that we may learn to profess our faith with courage
and announce with joy the wonder of your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Exodus 17:3-7

In those days, in their thirst for water,
   the people grumbled against Moses,
   saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
   with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
   “What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
   “Go over there in front of the people,
   along with some of the elders of Israel,
   holding in your hand, as you go,
   the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
   for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
   because the Israelites quarreled there
   and tested the LORD, saying,
   “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

â„Ÿ. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
   let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
   let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
   let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
   and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
   “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
   as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
   they tested me though they had seen my works.”


Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail; let the gentiles be judged in your presence.  V/. When my enemies are turned back in defeat, they shall lose strength and perish before your face.

Second Reading Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
   we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
   through whom we have gained access by faith
   to this grace in which we stand,
   and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint,
   because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
   through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
   died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
   though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
   in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Acclamation before the Gospel  cf. Jn 4:42, 15


I have lifted my eyes up unto you, who dwell in the heavens. V/. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hands of their masters. V/. And as the eyes of a maidservant to the hands of her mistress. V/. So do our eyes look unto the Lord our God until he have mercy on us. V/. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

Gospel John 4:5-15, 39-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
   near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
   “Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
   “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
   “If you knew the gift of God
   and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’
   you would have asked him
   and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
   “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
   where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
   who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
   with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
   “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
   but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
   the water I shall give will become in him
   a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
   “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
   or have to keep coming here to draw water.

“I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
   but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
   “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
   when you will worship the Father
   neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
   we worship what we understand,
   because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
   when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
   and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
   must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
   “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
   when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
   “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.
When the Samaritans came to him,
   they invited him to stay with them;
   and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
   and they said to the woman,
   “We no longer believe because of your word;
   for we have heard for ourselves,
   and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

 Reflection Questions

What tempts you to ask, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

Is there a hope which has disappointed you?

What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and in truth?” 

Catena Nova

Observe her zeal and wisdom. She came to draw water, and when she had lighted upon the true Well, ... For what the Apostles did, that, after her ability, did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord, without the command of any, leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him…. Observe too how prudently she speaks; she said not, Come and see the Christ, but with the same condescension by which Christ had netted her she draws the men to Him; Come, she says, see a Man who told me all that ever I did. She was not ashamed to say that He told me all that ever I did. Yet she might have spoken otherwise, Come, see one that prophesies; but when the soul is inflamed with holy fire, it looks then to nothing earthly, neither to glory nor to shame, but belongs to one thing alone, the flame which occupies it… Do you see the wisdom of the woman? She knew, she knew certainly that having but tasted that Well, they would be affected in the same manner as herself. Yet any one of the grosser sort would have concealed the reproof which Jesus had given; but she parades her own life, and brings it forward before all men, so as to attract and capture all. (St. John Chrysostom)

A woman came. She is a symbol of the Church not yet made righteous. Righteousness follows from the conversation. She came in ignorance, she found Christ, and he enters into conversation with her. Let us see what it is about, let us see why a Samaritan woman came to draw water. The Samaritans did not form part of the Jewish people: they were foreigners. The fact that she came from a foreign people is part of the symbolic meaning, for she is a symbol of the Church. The Church was to come from the Gentiles, of a different race from the Jews. We must then recognize ourselves in her words and in her person, and with her give our own thanks to God. She was a symbol, not the reality; she foreshadowed the reality, and the reality came to be. She found faith in Christ, who was using her as a symbol to teach us what was to come. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Blessed are you, O woman, drawer of ordinary water, who turned out to be a drawer of living water.

You found the treasure, the Source from whom a flood of mercies flows.

The spring had dried up,
but it broke through to you
and gave you to drink.
He was poor,
but he asked in order to enrich you.

The Glorious Fount,
He who was sitting at the well
as Giver of drink to all,
flows to each according to His will:
different springs according to those who drink.
From the well a single drink
comes up each time for those who sup,
but the Living Fount lets distinct blessings
flow to distinct people.

Blessed are you
to whom he gave living water to drink,
and you did not thirst again, as you said.
For he called the truth “living water,”
since all who hear it will not thirst again.
Blessed are you who learned the truth and did not thirst;
for one is the Messiah, and there is no more.

Blessed are you, O woman,
for not suppressing your judgement about what you discovered.
Your love was zealous
to share your treasure with your city.
You left behind your pitcher,
but filled with understanding
you gave your people to drink.

In you, O woman, I see a wonder as great as Mary!
For she, from within her womb,
in Bethlehem brought forth his body as a child,
but you by your mouth made him manifest
as an adult in Shechem.
Blessed are you, woman,
Who brought forth by your mouth
light for those in darkness.

Mary, the thirsty land in Nazareth,
conceived our Lord by her ear.
You too, O woman thirsting for water,
conceived the Son by your hearing.
Blessed are your ears that drank the source
that gave drink to the world.
Mary planted him in the manger,
but you planted him in the ears of his hearers.
Your voice, O woman, brought forth first fruit,
before even the apostles, announcing the Messiah.
The apostles were forbidden to announce him
among pagans and Samaritans.
Blessed is your mouth that he opened and confirmed.

Blessed are you, O woman (St. Ephraim the Syrian)

Fountains of living water! The biblical symbol par excellence, proper to a harsh, dry, Middle Eastern land, of human desire absolutely fulfilled, without frustration, running over, harmonious and peaceable. It is this same fountain which Jesus had offered to the woman at the well of Samaria, instead of the water which does not satisfy: ‘The one who drinks of the water which I shall give will never more be thirsty: for the water that I shall give will become in that person a spring of water welling up into life without end.’ (John 4:14) The fixing of the mind on the things that are above has as its end to recreate in us a pacific imitative desire which does not know frustration, but whose longing, viscerally moved, is to participate actively, by creating the wedding banquet of the Lamb in the midst of this world, in God’s creative vivaciousness, utterly incapable of frustration. (James Alison)

In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. The conversation quickly turns to the question of Jesus’s identity when she asks, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask of drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (4:9). Jesus speaks of water, wells, and worship, and then springs it on her that he is the Messiah. How does the woman respond? She drops her water jar, runs back to town, and tells everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” (4:29). In this story, questions of Jesus’s identity and her identity thread together in mutual revelation. Knowing who Jesus is leads her to know who she is — and, instead of feeling shame about her mistakes, she feels new freedom to tell her story. And so it goes throughout the Gospels. Almost everyone leaves Jesus’s company saying: “He made me whole!” “I have been healed!” “I’m not a prostitute, a sinner, an outcast, or a leper. I now know who I really am!” “I may be a Samaritan, but I can still know God.” “I am loved!” “I am accepted as I am!” Being “in” Jesus, in his presence or in conversation with him, pushes the other person beyond social roles and masks to deeper awareness of “Who am I?” transforming the question from an external one to a relational one that might be better rendered “Whose am I?” (Diana Butler Bass)

In the story of the Samaritan woman, Jesus chooses to engage with a three-time outcast. She’s female; she’s a member of a despised, loathsome race, the historic enemies of the true people of God. And, to top it all off, she’s five times married, and living with a man she isn’t married to. The Samaritan woman is repugnant, not only to a Jew like Jesus but to her neighbors. She has to go alone to the well, because no decent person wants to be seen in her company. But Jesus is thirsty. He asks for water. He offers her water that will slake her thirst forever. And when the woman argues, claiming insolently that this is Jacob’s well and that her traditions of worship are correct, he doesn’t tell her she’s wrong and his people are right. He says the Spirit of God isn’t limited by tribe or ancestors or behavior; it’s poured out for everyone. Then, without judgment, he tells her ‘exactly who she is. The Samaritan woman doesn’t fully understand Jesus. She doesn’t immediately accept the relationship he offers. Even when he tells her the truth, she tries to cling to her own received religious dogma. But she really wants that water. “Give me some of that water,” she demands of the strange rabbi. And her thirst leads her to bring others to the well — without telling them what to believe, just by echoing the great door-opening Gospel invitation, Come and see. Jesus transforms this woman without a name, this despised status offender, and she becomes the first person to preach Jesus as Messiah. Which would seem to suggest that salvation does not depend on getting things right. It depends on thirst. (Sara Miles)

The Samaritan woman grasped what He said with fervor that came from an awareness of her real need. The transaction was fascinating. She has come with a buket. He sent her back with a spring of living water. She had come as a reject. He sent her back being accepted by God Himself. She came wounded. He sent her back whole. She came laden with questions. He sent her back as a source for answers. She came living a life of quiet desperation. She ran back overflowing with hope. The disciples missed it all. It was lunchtime for them. (Ravi Zacharias)


     Do a quick inventory of how many water sources your dwelling has — everything from kitchen sinks, to bathroom fixtures, laundry hookups and outside faucets.  I'll bet most of us come up with at least half a dozen.  Now imagine having to walk for about half a mile, perhaps every day, carrying a jug of some size that would be filled with water when you returned home, all during a cold and rainy time of year.  As best we can tell, that's the likely setting for Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman.   
     Which may tell us something about this story's meaning.  For the encounter happens in the middle of daily life — quite unexpectedly — while minding one's business, so to speak.  And this woman's routine had another feature.  I say middle for another reason.  This woman with five husbands and a live-in lover came to Jacob's Well around noon — an unusual time as this chore would normally be done in the early morning or evening  — afraid perhaps, like Moses in the desert, that people were all too eager to stone her (cf. I).  Maybe she felt safer there at midday, all by herself.
     Except, of course, for this strange Galilean.  I can imagine her thinking, “What’s he want?  Here I am — a Samaritan, and a woman, and a serial adulteress.    Why they won’t even speak to women in public much less a woman like me. Or to Samaritans whom they think are half-breed heretics.  Maybe he’s hiding some stones beneath his tunic.  Asking me for a drink is surely a trick.   And drinking from my cup would make him ‘unclean’ – unable to worship in that temple of theirs in Jerusalem.  If he’s not careful, they’ll be throwing stones at him.  What does he really want?”
    Well, he seems to want a little fun as he engages in some spirited repartee with her — telling her all about her background and how her religious beliefs are lacking.  Of course, she gives it right back to him.  She was probably quite used to defending herself.
     But then this jostling takes a serious turn and the day-to-day setting of this encounter reveals something quite extraordinary.  Jesus offers her living water.  But she thinks it's magic water that will relieve her of this daily chore.  It's a favorite device in John's gospel.  Jesus is  misunderstood by those he meets — often because he speaks of something rather ordinary that has a far deeper meaning.  Like the disciples who think the food Jesus has to eat of which [they] do not know (G) was the groceries they went into town to buy!
     For it's a human penchant to think God acts in some unmistakeable way, with a flair for the dramatic, indeed, by miracles.  Such things do happen, of course.  John's gospel has six of them in fact — everything from turning water into wine to raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.  But even then it's the stuff of daily life — like a wedding reception or someone's death — that serve as signs of something far greater.   
     Which is why in his annual letter for Lent, Pope Francis counsels us:  "Do not take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily struggles, its hardships and contradictions."  That includes, by the way, our failures.  As Paul puts it,  While we were still helpless, [Christ] died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (II).  Something the woman of Samaria realized after her encounter with the Christ, empowering her to bring others to drink of the living water.
     As many across the world are doing today as the Elect chosen for the Easter sacraments celebrate the first of the "Scrutinies." In the ancient Church, these were occasions to appear before the bishop to have their sincerity, and their readiness, scrutinized.  In Year A of the lectionary cycle the gospels are tied to the Scrutinies with their baptismal themes. For the “living water” Jesus offered the woman of Samaria is a symbol of faith: the faith of our baptism which we will profess anew during the Easter liturgy, together with the newly-baptized. The faith, Paul says, by which we have gained access to the grace in which we stand. (II) 
     Now Lent is the time when we are all "scrutinized."  But I have often thought how the Samaritan woman, if she sought baptism in the ancient church, would not stand up to the scrutiny.  Nor would she in today's Order of Christian Initiation of Adults — she would have to have those marriages annulled and her current situation "fixed" before she could be baptized, much less serve in a church ministry.  But that's not what Jesus expected.  All she needed was faith.  It's all we need, too.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church, that we may be a source of living water for all who thirst for meaning and purpose in their lives.

For the grace of courage: that our encounters with Christ may strengthen us, free us from fear and embolden us to share our experience of knowing Christ.

For all who face prejudice and discrimination: that God will heal their wounds and help them to continue to share their gifts for the good of society.

For all who thirst every day: that God will assist all who have limited access to water, guide all who are searching for new sources of water, and raise our awareness of the importance of clean water.

For greater recognition of the ministry of women: that we may be open to and encouraging of the ministerial gifts of women who bring the Good News to our communities and to those who never come to Church.

For all who are seeking employment: that God will guide them to the places where their gifts can be fully utilized and where they can grow to their fullest.

For an end to bloodshed in areas of conflict, particularly Ukraine: that God will lead human hearts away from killing and violence, and towards peace and dialogue.

O God, living and true,
look upon your people,
whose dry and stony hearts are parched with thirst.
Unseal the living water of your Spirit;
let it become within us an ever-flowing spring,
leaping up to eternal life.
Thus may we worship you in spirit and in truth
through Christ, our deliverance and hope,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

Offertory Anthem

O let all who thirst,
let them come to the water.
And let all who have nothing,
let them come to the Lord:
without money, without price.
Why should you pay the price,
except for the Lord?

And let all who seek,
let them come to the water.
And let all who have nothing,
let them come to the Lord:
without money, without strife.
Why should you spend your life,
except for the Lord?

And let all who toil,
let them come to the water.
And let all who are weary,
let them come to the Lord:
all who labor, without rest.
How can your soul find rest,
except for the Lord?

And let all the poor,
let them come to the water,
Bring the ones who are laden,
bring them all to the Lord:
bring the children without might.
Easy the load and light:
come to the Lord.

Communion Chant

Closing Hymn


Like a deer that yearns for running streams
So my soul is yearning for God. (Refrain)

My soul is thirsting for God
The God of my life.
When can I see the face of my God?
My tears have become my bread
By night and by day.
I hear it said
Where is your God?

Deep is calling on deep
In the roar of waters.
Your torrents and waves
Have swept over me.
With cries that pierce me through to the heart
They revile me.
Saying to me
Where is your God?

By day the Lord will send His kindness and love.
By night I will sing praise to my God.
So why are you cast down my soul
Why groan within me? Hope in God
My Savior and God.
Hope in God my Savior and God.