From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
March 20 – Third Sunday in Lent
At this time of year we focus in a particular way on leading catechumenates (those who are not baptized and seek to join our faith) deeper into their relationship with Jesus. For the next three weeks we hear readings that speak to their journey of conversion and answering the call to discipleship. It is an appropriate time for us to focus on our own journeys as well.
Our readings speak to a constant tension that exists in our relationship with God as we journey from sinfulness through conversion toward complete humility, trust and obedience to His will and plan for us. Our Gospel finds a sinful woman who has heard of the Messiah coming face to face with him. She has nothing in common with him and even feels unworthy to be in his presence. But his mercy is made evident as she comes to know him and recognizes that he can see into her very soul, and still loves her. Jesus draws her in past her fears and her doubts. He draws out her desire, calls her past her sinfulness, and quenches her thirst with his mercy. She comes to know and to believe! He calls us past our sinfulness as well, inviting us to conversion, discipleship, and new life in Him!
The first reading talks about Massah and Meribah, which mean to test and quarrel. Moses asks “what shall I do with this people?” He is leading the people from captivity to freedom, but they are questioning the wisdom of having followed him and God. They are a people who have had relationship with God, but are suffering from great thirst and feeling abandoned. They are frightened and so is Moses. They all need reassurance. They are a reminder of this tension when people feel lost and unsure. Their relationship with God is tested and they quarrel with how he cared for them. We are reminded that even those who know the Lord can find themselves lost and afraid. Like the Samaritan woman, they can find themselves in need of His mercy.
Their thirst and ours can only be answered by prayer, patience and trust in our Lord. We are thankful for the blessings he bestows upon us and readily trust Him when things are good. But we struggle when things don’t go according to our plan for life, and begin to question anew His care for us. Our Psalm says “if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” We need to listen for his voice and guidance in all things, and soften our hearts to accept His will for us. We need to maintain hope through the difficult times, realizing that He will lift us from our sufferings to ultimate joy.
As Vincentians, with every neighbor in need, we enter into situations where people are challenged to see God’s plan for them. We become present to them in their time of need just as God is always present to us. We ask them to trust us and allow us to help them just as God asks us so often to trust him. Through prayer we discern what God’s will for their situation is. It can be challenging for them to understand and for us as well. How do I seek God’s will in difficult situations for neighbors in need AND for myself? How well do I trust that God will be present in both easy and difficult times? Do I listen for His voice, with an open and loving heart?
Lord Jesus, help my heart not to be hardened. Give me patience with those I minister to when they struggle with trusting me. Give me patience to trust in your will, not putting you to the test nor quarrelling with your ways. Help me to make myself fully present to others that I may be more aware of your continual presence to me. Grace me with humility to submit fully to your will trusting in your love and being obedient to your will for me always. We pray all of this in your name. Amen