This Sunday we have the great privilege of hearing the story of the woman at the well, the definitive text on Christian evangelization. Take the time this week for a prayerful reading of this story and notice that as this woman seeks, she's already been found! If only we would surrender to the God who is already always pursuing us! Then, we might realize how the Everlasting Lord is the only one who can quench the otherwise unquenchable thirst of our hearts. Make the effort this Lent to clear a path and set down your old buckets so that the water of Christ's divine life can flow through you.
Our magnificent first reading is a short passage from the beginning of the twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis. We see that at this point in the creation story jealousy, rivalry, anger, murder, imperialism, arrogance, drunkenness, indeed a wickedness has spread over the entire face of the earth. So what does God do? He sends a rescue operation! The rescue operation is going to come in the form of a people trained to listen again to the voice of the Lord. During this season of Lent we must also become a people trained to listen so as to be rescued by the Resurrection.
Our Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent covers the three "shortcuts" the Devil offered Jesus to lure him away from his central mission of the cross. The Devil chose these temptations because he knew that Jesus would not be primarily a social reformer, or a wonder-worker, or a political operator. He would be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Knowing who Jesus is and what he is about is indispensable as we commence the Lenten season.
"Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the rest will be given to you." Make God the center of your life, and you will be spiritually ordered in Christ's image. If you make wealth and security your center, you will be empty. You make the choice: will God be your center?
Each one of this week's readings speaks of holiness, letting the Divine Life enter into you so that you become set apart. To be holy is to love with a divine indifference, shining on the good and the bad alike. What a revolution this is! Think how different your life would be were you to love this way all the time, rather than measuring out your love based on merit. Dedicate your whole life to love and you will be truly holy, set apart, a sanctuary.
What a privilege we have in this week's readings to hear from the book of Sirach, composed by an ancient sage who was deeply immersed in the Torah, the law, and the rituals of the Temple. As such, he delivers one of the deepest truths of the spiritual life: God so respects our freedom, that he will allow us to experience life or death, good or evil. He will give us what we choose and, more to it, we will become what we choose. Each day, every moment, choose the path of love, and you will become the kind of person fit to live in heaven.
At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares his disciples to salt, light, and a city set on a hill. All these things exist not for themselves, but for something else. In the same way, Christians are meant to make the world a better place. The Christian responsibility is to affect the culture as salt, light, and a city on a hill.
As we look into the famous “Beatitudes” described in this weeks Gospel, we learn that the Divine Mercy is the path to true joy. The more we allow the Divine Mercy to flow through us the more it grows in us. Once we eliminate the idolatrous rivals of wealth, pleasure, power, and honor and make Christ the priority in our lives we begin to live like saints.
This week's reading from the prophet Isaiah emphasizes God's tendency to bring the best from the worst situations, light from the darkness. Throughout the Bible we see wonderful things come from the most unexpected places, and this is reflected in our own lives as well. Often our greatest goodness can come from the darkest places of our beings.
The entirety of this Sunday's second reading might be seen as so much boilerplate, throwaway lines that a writer used at the commencement of his letter, something like a formal salutation. But in point of fact, almost the whole of Christianity is contained in these lines, if we have but the eyes to see. So take out your Bibles today and revisit the beginning of 1 Corinthians. It will tell you pretty much everything essential that you need to know about yourself and your mission.