3rd Sunday of Lent A 2023
The great theologian and philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas, once told a story of a man who spent his entire life searching for a very special horse. He traveled to distant lands, spent all of his wealth, and sacrificed his health and happiness in the pursuit of this horse. For many years, he never gave up hope, and he was convinced that one day he would find this horse.
Eventually he became sad, frustrated and depressed because he was about to die and he still had not found this horse.
He was ready to give up on his search when he met a wise old man who asked him why he was so sad.
The man replied that he had spent his entire life searching for a very special horse, but he had never found it. The wise old man looked at him and said, "My dear friend, the horse you have been searching for has been with you all along."
The man was confused and asked the old man what he meant. The old man explained, "The horse you have been searching for is the one you have been riding on all this time. It is your own self that you have been searching for."
Like the man in the story, many of us spend our lives searching for happiness, fulfillment, and purpose, only to find that what we were searching for was within us all along.
In today's readings, we are reminded that true happiness and fulfillment can be found by opening our hearts to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In the first reading from the book of Exodus, we hear about the Israelites who grumbled and doubted God's care for them, forgetting the miracles that God had performed for them in freeing them from slavery in Egypt.
However, God still provided for them by giving them water from the rock. This reminds us that even when we doubt God's presence and care for us, He is still with us and provides for our needs.
In the second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, we hear about the hope that comes from having faith in Jesus Christ. We are reminded that it is through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross that we are justified and reconciled with God.
Despite our sinfulness and shortcomings, God's love for us is demonstrated through Jesus' death and resurrection. We are invited to put our faith in Him and find hope in the promises of eternal life.
In the Gospel reading, we hear about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Through this encounter, Jesus reveals His identity to her as the Messiah and offers her living water, which symbolizes the gift of eternal life.
The Samaritan woman, despite her past and social status, puts her faith in Jesus and becomes a witness to her community of His message of salvation.
All of our readings call on us to examine our own lives and ask ourselves if we are like the man in Thomas Aquinas' story and the woman at the well, searching for something that we already possess, but fail to recognize.
We are reminded that true happiness and fulfillment can only be found by opening our hearts to God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Just as the woman at the well received living water from Jesus, we too can find true happiness by turning to God and opening our hearts to Him.
The key is turning away from the things that distract us from God and focus on strengthening our faith in Him.
That’s what this season of Lent is all about.
Lent offers us the opportunity to examine our lives and our relationship with God, and to make a conscious effort to turn away from sin and turn towards God's love and grace.
Through fasting, prayer, and acts of charity, we are reminded of our dependence on God and the importance of living a life that is centered on Him.
When our lives are centered and focused on him our eyes will be opened and we will recognize the gifts that He has already given us. Amen.