Sunday, March 12, 2023

3rd Sunday of Lent (Gospel: John 4:5-42) The waters of life


This past week (March 9th, 2023) I read that in a school in Columbia, 28 girls had been taken to hospital with fainting and anxiety after playing the Ouija. It was available to them in their school. People think these things are just harmless fun, but they are real.


All around us we see signs for Tarot card reading, fortune telling, psychics, all kinds of alternative healing and other practices that come under the heading of ‘occult’. We are told to stay away from these things that so many people find fascinating. Why is this? What is so wrong with it? Are we just over-reacting because we do not understand it?


If God tells us to stay away from something, there is a good reason for it.  God does not give us rules just for the sake of rules.  There is a reason for everything.  In the Old Testament in the book of Deuteronomy it says:

You must not have in your midst anyone who... practices divination, or anyone who consults the stars, who is a sorcerer, or one who practices magic or who consults the spirits, no diviner or one who asks questions of the dead. For the Lord abhors those who do these things. (Deut 18:10-11)


So what is the problem with these thing? Anything that is ‘occult’ is generally an attempt to gain knowledge or power of the future. One of the greatest things that God has given us is the gift of free will. All through this life we have the freedom to choose to do what we want, even to rejecting God, which is quite amazing. God does not reveal the future to us because if He did it would influence our free will. If I think I know what is going to happen, I am most likely to make decisions based on that information, but the problem is that then I am not totally free to choose, because my free will has been influenced by fear. That is the main problem with things such as fortune telling, tarot card reading, etc. We think we are gaining knowledge of the future, but this influences our freedom.


However, we have no way of knowing whether the information we are given is true or not and perhaps more importantly, where is it coming from? If God deliberately does not reveal the future to us, then the information is not coming from God. So where is it coming from and how can we trust that it is reliable? We are dabbling in the world of the spirit, without knowing what we are dealing with and make no mistake about it Satan is very cunning and knows how to deceive us. Jesus himself called him ‘The father of lies’ and ‘the deceiver.’ Sometimes a fortune teller may give you information that only you could know, but then they have won your confidence. If God forbids us to be part of these things, then the knowledge is not from God. If the Lord tells us that these things are detestable to him, then we would be wise to stay away from them. 


Now listen to what Jesus says to the woman at the well:

If you only knew what God was offering you and who it was that was asking you for a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.


What is God offering us? What is this living water? First of all it is the life of faith, the path to God, the truth about God as given to us by Jesus who is Son of God. The only thing that will fulfil us completely is God. No earthly thing or even the person we love most in the world, is capable of completely fulfilling us. To expect them to is to ask them to do what only God can do. But to realize that nothing on earth will completely fulfil us takes a lot of pressure off. Then we can enjoy the things of earth and the people of love, while knowing that we will only be completely fulfilled in God, beginning in this life and completed in the world to come.


When people turn away from God, as so many have today, they continue to search for God without realizing it. They are searching for fulfilment, but they are going to be disappointed. That is one reason why we see so much anger and rage at the moment. People are more and more frustrated because they cannot find satisfaction in anything and they don’t know where to turn. The only place we will find that fulfilment is in God.


Jesus is helping the woman at the well to see this. He points out that she has had five husbands and the man she is now with is not her husband. She has been trying to find happiness in relationships but has not been able. Jesus tells her and us, that it is only to be found in him. The ‘thirst’ that we have, can only be satisfied with the living water that comes from God.


For two thousand years the teachings of Christ have been guiding people on the path to God. The fact that it has lasted that long is itself a sign that this must be from God, especially when you look at the history of the Church, which is nothing to boast about. Yet despite that, the message is still passed on through sinful people like me, but passed on none the less. It is there for anyone who wants it. Many things are continually offered to us, but not all of them are good and not all of them will help us. What we believe is that what God offers us—the waters of life—is what will lead us to total happiness, beginning now and fulfilled in the world to come. This is what the Lord is teaching us. Do we believe that? 


Sometimes I think it comes back to something as basic as asking ourselves, ‘Do I believe the Scriptures are from God?’ ‘Do I believe that Jesus teaches us through his Church?’ If we believe that, then we need to listen to it. If we don’t believe that, we shouldn’t be here in the first place. God offers us his word to guide us, his Body and Blood to feed us, his forgiveness to heal us, but if we want to follow the path that He is showing us, then we must listen to what he teaches us and act on it.


If you only knew what God was offering you and who it was that was asking you for a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.



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