Our Thirst for God

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/02/19 at 12:00 AM

• For those of you [who will be baptized at Easter or] who come to the Easter Vigil in a few weeks, you will hear the remarkable prayer of blessing of water for baptism.
• This prayer is remarkable because it walks us through salvation history and shows us how God has used water as a rich symbol of the grace that comes to us through the Sacrament of Baptism, namely, sanctifying grace, which is the grace of salvation!
• The prayer recalls how God’s Spirit hovered over the waters in the first moments of the world’s creation; it reminds us of how, through the waters of the great flood, God brought an end to the world’s vice in Noah’s day and a made a new beginning of virtue.
• This prayer speaks of how the children of Abraham passed dry-shod through the Red Sea, set free from slavery to Pharaoh, while prefiguring the Sacrament of Baptism.
• This prayer also recalls how Jesus was baptized by St. John in the Jordan at the beginning of His ministry, and of how water and blood gushed forth from His side as He hung upon the cross at the end of His earthly life.
• And so through this prayer we hear how our Lord has used water throughout human history as a means of sanctifying us and of drawing us closer to Him.
• Water plays a prominent role in our readings today as we hear the story of the Israelites thirsting in the desert, and how our Lord brought forth water from a rock for His chosen people, providing for them in their every need, despite their unworthiness.
• Even more poignantly, in the Gospel today we hear of the Samaritan woman at the well, who at first was in search of only natural water, but who, after conversing with our Lord, desired the waters of ever-lasting life.
• In truth, all of us thirst for God. Indeed, the deepest longing of every human heart is to be united with our Lord, for eternal union with Him is why God created us. God designed us so that we would long for Him and seek Him out!
• Sadly, many people do not recognize that the thirst they feel deep inside is a thirst for God, and in an effort to slake their thirst, many people turn to the things of this world for fulfillment, just as the Samaritan woman sought to slake her thirst with men.
• But truly, God is the only thing that will ever fulfill us. He alone can slake that great thirst each of us feels within the depths of our souls. And God will only slake this great thirst if we unite ourselves to Him by living a life of holiness.
• For the past two weeks I’ve spoken about the soul-expanding process of becoming holy. As we begin our spiritual lives, growth in holiness comes about largely through our own efforts.
• Through the practices of fasting and prayer, and by seeking to detach ourselves from the things of this world, we prepare our souls for union with our Lord. But as we do these things, we often must contend with temptation and suffering.
• The evil one always knows when we are making progress in the spiritual life, and so he will always try to derail it by tempting us to sin and turn away from God.
• But the devil is not the only one who tests us. As I mentioned last Sunday, God often allows suffering to enter into our lives as a means of strengthening us and of helping us detach from earthly things so that we might become more attached to Him.
• Suffering is always a test because of our natural tendency to become angry with God when bad things happen. How we deal with suffering is a great measure of our faith, because suffering is always an invitation from Christ to join Him on Calvary.
• God doesn’t send us suffering because He wants us to suffer per se. Rather, God allows suffering to come into our lives so that we might become more like His Son!
• When we persevere in prayer and fasting, when we root out the grave sin in our lives, when we detach ourselves from worldly things and suffer with faith, hope, and charity, little by little, God begins to quench our great interior thirst.
• As we make progress in holiness and our souls expand, we begin to drink of our Lord’s water in prayer, which becomes in us a spring welling up to eternal life.
• As our union with God is strengthened, our prayer becomes less and less something that we do, and more and more something that God does within us. The more intent we are on doing the will of God, the more our Lord unites Himself to us in prayer.
• However, I think the real lesson of today’s Gospel is not that we thirst for God, but rather that God thirsts for us, and that He cannot resist a soul earnestly seeking truth.
• Keep in mind how shocking it was for Jesus even to be speaking to a Samaritan woman. There was bitter enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans, and thus the Jews and Samaritans typically had nothing to do with each other. Moreover, He was exhausted!
• Yet in our Gospel narrative we see Jesus not only engaging the woman at the well, but leading her down a path to conversion. He wants to win her soul, and so like a master fisherman, he sets to work reeling in this big fish!
• And through the course of their dialogue, the Samaritan woman responds to God’s grace. Not only is she open to talking to a Jewish man, but she humbly admits her sin, and shows a sincere desire to know more when He moves her away from the task of drawing water to seeking the water that wells up to eternal life.
• And as the woman at the well shows willingness to accept the true teachings that He is giving her, Jesus reveals His true identity, and not only does she profess belief in Him, but she shares her newfound faith with her neighbors.
• My brothers and sisters, we are all thirsty. Deep in our souls is a thirst that only union with God can quench. But for that thirst to be quenched, we must do our part to respond to the grace of conversion that He gives so generously to us all.
• But more importantly, God thirsts for us. He thirsts for our souls, and His greatest desire is that all of us join Him one day in Heaven. But again, we must do our part.
• May we continue steadfastly with our Lenten fasting, penances, and prayers that help us to be detached from worldly goods and more attached to God. May we be willing to turn away from temptation and endure all sufferings with faith, hope, and true love.
• And like the Samaritan woman at the well today, may we accept our Lord’s graces and drink deeply of His life-giving water so it may well up within us to eternal life.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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