Saying “We need water to live!” is stating the obvious in general conversation.
Bishop: Jesus uses ordinary situations to create something extraordinary
But when Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., puts those words into context for the Third Sunday of Lent, the statement takes on greater meaning.
Click here to see photo gallery from Bishop's visit to Holmdel.
Click here to see photo gallery from Bishop's visit to Manalapan.
During the Masses he celebrated March 11 in St. Benedict Church, Holmdel, and March 12 in St. Thomas More Church, Manalapan, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the Gospel story about Jesus encountering a woman from Samaria at Jacob’s well, and how “Jesus uses this strange occasion and meeting and conversation to make the point that he has something amazing and truly life-giving to offer.
“All we need to do is ask him for it,” said Bishop O’Connell, recounting how Jesus was traveling to get away from the Pharisees who were after him because of the Baptisms he and his apostles were performing; how Jesus had stopped in Samaria, which was enemy territory, and how Jesus’ behavior could have been deemed “scandalous” since he, a Jew, was speaking with a woman who was both a Samaritan and a stranger.
“It is interesting that this conversation about ‘water’ is the context for Jesus revealing who he is and who she is,” Bishop O’Connell said, referring to how Jesus told her about her past and present life as he offers her the gift of life eternal.
The woman, in turn, comes to see Jesus as a prophet, and she begs Jesus to quench her thirst by giving her what she needs to gain eternal life.
While over the centuries Scripture scholars and theologians have analyzed the Gospel story, the Bishop said what he draws from the passage is that “the Lord Jesus turns ordinary life, ordinary experience – drinking water for example – into something extraordinary.
“The Son of God has come to make human experience into an opportunity to encounter the divine and to unite ourselves to him. All we need to do is ask him, ‘Give me this water!’”
The Bishop continued, “If we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to the Lord Jesus in all the ordinary, everyday things of human life, he will give us the grace to desire him all the more.”
The Masses in St. Benedict Church and St. Thomas More Church are part of the Bishop’s visits to parishes during the Sundays of Lent. So far he’s visited Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, on the First Sunday of Lent and St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, on the Second Sunday of Lent.
“In this holy season of Lent, as we continue our journey toward Easter,” Bishop O’Connell said to the two Monmouth County parishes on the Third Sunday of Lent. “Let us beg the Lord Jesus for the grace of conversion so that our faith might be strengthened, our hope might be sustained and our love might turn our sinfulness into the occasion for experience of his mercy and forgiveness.”