Third Sunday of Lent 2023

Generated to new life through Baptism, we too are called to witness the life and hope that are within us. If our quest and our thirst are thoroughly quenched in Christ, we will manifest that salvation is not found in the “things” of this world, which ultimately produce drought, but in he who has loved us and will always love us: Jesus, our Saviour, in the living water, that he offers us.

The Gospel passage from today tells us of Jesus’s meeting with a Samaritan woman. Like the Samaritan woman, whoever personally encounters the living Jesus feels the need to talk about him to others, so that everyone might reach the point of proclaiming that Jesus “is truly the saviour of the world”. Generated to new life through Baptism, we too are called to witness the life and hope that are within us. If our quest and our thirst are thoroughly quenched in Christ, we will manifest that salvation is not found in the “things” of this world, which ultimately produce drought, but in he who has loved us and will always love us: Jesus, our Saviour, in the living water, that he offers us.

– Pope Francis

Collect for the Third Sunday of Lent

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, God, for ever and ever.


Deus, omnium misericordiarum et totius bonitatis auctor, qui peccatorum remedia in ieiuniis, orationibus et eleemosynis demonstrasti, hanc humilitatis nostræ confessionem propitius intuere, ut, qui inclinamur conscientia nostra, tua semper misericordia sublevemur. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

Today’s Gospel: John 4:5-42

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman 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, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:
‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’
‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:
‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him,
welling up to eternal life.’
‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:
‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’
The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’
At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:
‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’
Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

Third Week of Lent Reflection

Written by Carl E. Olson in Praying the Our Father in Lent

Themes: Commandments, Thirst, Faith, Hope, Love, Living Water, Healing, Cleansing, Deliverance

The readings during Lent often present us with encounters between God and man, and each of these sheds light on our own relationship with God. In Cycle C, there is the famous account of Moses and the burning bush (Ex 3:1ff), in which the banished shepherd engages in conversation with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God finally reveals his divine name, saying, “I AM WHO I AM,” before promising liberation for the people of Israel from captivity in Egypt.

Several chapters later we find, in the Old Testament reading for Cycle A, that the people are grumbling and murmuring. Having already forgotten the saving work of God, they are so angry that Moses fears they will stone him. How, we wonder, could they be so forgetful and ungrateful? Yet if we are honest we recognise that we aren’t any better: we’ve been baptised and liberated from sin, but we still complain. Perhaps we’ve had thoughts similar to what the people said to Moses: “But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” (Ex 16:3). Maybe we’ve also wondered, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?” (Ex 17:3). We find ourselves thinking with nostalgia about certain sins and temptations. Our faith wavers; our hope bends; our love wilts. We might even be tempted to blame God for our struggles with sin.

Then, in Cycle B, the Gospel is of Jesus cleansing the Temple with dramatic zeal before making the equally dramatic declaration: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (see Jn 2:13-25). The Temple in Jerusalem, which was a place of worship and God’s dwelling place among his chosen people, was becoming a place of corrupt commodity. Likewise, our daily lives can become compromised and even corrupted; we can start to accept failure and even sin as the norm. There has to be a reckoning and a cleansing. Our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 6:19-20), need to be once again offered to God as a “living sacrifice” (Rm 12:1), so we can love, know, and worship God with everything we are.

Lent, then, can and should reveal the fragility of our faith, the frailty of our hope, the feebleness of our love. We might be tempted to blame God for our struggles with sin; worse, we may long for the comfort of sinful habits. It may seem easier to return to the slavery we know than to journey in faith towards the kingdom of God. But the burning fire of God’s perfect love can cleanse us, opening our hearts to the joy and gratitude befitting true sons and daughters of God.


Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fill all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious Lord. Amen.

“Heavenly King”, Byzantine Prayer

Praying the Our Father in Lent