Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 23, 2014: 3rd Sunday of Lent A

When we think of California, what images come to mind: Beautiful palm trees, driving down Hwy 1 on the Pacific Coast riding a convertible, and thousands of acres of green farms planted with fruits, vegetables, and almonds. Have you seen the news of the parched and cracked earth all over California because of the 3-year drought? Water reservoirs and lakes which used to have a marina for boats have been reduced to small ponds. Vast farmlands are dusty and cracked. Wells have run dry. This scenario is unimaginable here in South Louisiana where water seems to be plentiful with the mighty Mississippi River, and the sugar cane always seems to grow tall. But lest we forget, Louisiana recently experienced some of the driest years. Drought, however, can happen even closer to us than where we live.

Have you ever experienced dryness in your soul? How would you describe what that dryness feels like? Perhaps it feels like emptiness, doubt, restlessness, anxiety, loneliness or even anger. Perhaps there is no desire to pray, we do not experience God’s presence, we get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is a little more than a childhood fairy tale. It’s not a good feeling to feel dry in our spirit. We wonder if we are at fault for causing this dryness in our soul and at times it is our own doing. Because we entertain the many desires we have -- overeating or drinking, spending endless hours watching TV or on the computer -- we get wearied and fatigued by indulging them. In fact, indulging in all the desires causes in us greater emptiness and hunger.

The Samaritan woman who comes to draw water at the well represents all of us, because like her, we often experience dryness in our spirit and look for something to quench it. She is deliberately coming alone at the hottest part of the day because it is likely that her lifestyle is a scandal to the women of the town. In her heart she feels the painful emptiness, doubt, and loneliness. She believes that her solution to filling void is to move from one relationship to another, always hoping that the next person will fulfill all her desires. We also look for a quick fix to our dryness; it could be a person, a thing, or a substance. But as Jesus tells the woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.”

At this time, we also have to mention about the dryness we experience which is not caused by us, but an experience that God permits in us to draw us closer to Him. We may have received confirmation from God that He is going to use us in a great way. But in the face of trials, tests, sudden interruptions, disappointments, sadness, failed opportunities, broken moments, we will likely think, ‘He’s through with me; He is finished with me,’ when in fact He is equipping us.

Whether we experience dryness due to our own fault or due to Divine purpose, Jesus offers himself as the answer to our dryness and thirst, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Christ meets us where we are. He knows our deepest thirst--the thirst of the heart, which ultimately only God can quench. The ‘water’ Jesus desires to give us is the life of God bubbling up inside. When we feel dry and thirsty in our spirit, we need to go to the well where Jesus sits. When prayer is dry and without consolation, we still need to make effort to go to the well--whether it is a few quiet moment in our car, a silent moment before the Blessed Sacrament, or at our prayer corner. We need to ponder at that quiet moment the words Jesus speaks to us, “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.”

If you are feeling dryness, come join us for the Divine Mercy Mass on Tuesday evenings or just attend one daily mass during the week. The adoration chapel is also open for you to spend just a few minutes before you head to work or home. Also remember that the Way of the Cross on every Friday evening is a perfect way to unite your suffering to the suffering of Christ.