Here is a copy of Fr. David’s homily from last weekend, February 28 – Third Sunday of Lent. It is posted here for your convenience. You will find the homily on the left and the Gospel reading on the right.

3rd Sunday of Lent
John 4:5-42

The Spiritual Life

This month, February, is Black History month. During the month we pay tribute to people and events that shaped the history of African Americans and the history of America itself.

A pivotal moment happened 56 years ago this month when four black university students in North Carolina sat down at a Woolworth’s whites only lunch counter in Greensboro to get something to eat. They were denied service, but their actions re-ignited the U.S. civil rights movement and the struggle by millions of African Americans to achieve racial equality and justice. Longtime civil rights activist Julian Bond says that the Greensboro sit-ins changed the course of the civil rights movement during the 1960’s.
I visited the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro again this past week. It brought tears to my eyes as again I witnessed the cruelty and barbaric hate that those who identify themselves as civilized human beings were capable of. The museum is a lasting tribute to the sacrifices so many African Americans, as well as others, made for equality and social justice. I highly recommend a visit to the museum.

Some of you spent the week before last at St. Francis’ Inn in Philadelphia. Several groups of you go every year. Over the years many of you have been there, as well, helping to feed a sit down dinner every day to between 350 and 450 hungry poor and marginalized brothers and sisters. Greensboro, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Washington, Birmingham: memorable moments when our consciousness was raised. We become more aware that the spiritual life is at one and the same time human life. And when we are in solidarity with the human cry we are in solidarity with Jesus Christ himself. Let me suggest that this solidarity is no more beautifully illustrated than in today’s great gospel story. Consider it.

It’s the story of a Samaritan woman – an outcast on two fronts – and a man who breaks the law by talking to her, and who scandalizes his disciples by it. It’s also the story of an outcast people given dignity by this man. How do we know that the woman is an outcast? Well, she comes to the well at noon. The other women in the village come in the morning, when it’s cool.

They won’t allow her to be with them. They won’t associate with her. Why? Because they know that she’s had several husbands, and she’s living with another man who is not her husband. At the well she sees another man, a Jew. He speaks to her. “Give me a drink.” He’s inviting trouble.

He should not be speaking to a woman in the first place, let alone a member of a tribe of Israel, long-despised by the Jewish people. He makes himself unclean by speaking with this woman. The conversation between Jesus and the woman is amazing. It’s the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in the bible. He doesn’t shun her; doesn’t judge her; doesn’t hold her past against her. He treats her humanly. And then, quite astonishingly, she runs into town and then tells everyone about this Jew who doesn’t dismiss her or condemn her. She’s convincing, so convincing that the whole town of Samaritans becomes excited. They’re thrilled. He crosses the barrier of race with them too. “Stay with us, please.” He does. For two days! Amazing! He stands in solidarity with them. A whole village find themselves. They affirm that they “belong” after all. In spite of a centuries’ old hatred between two peoples, this Jesus, by his affirming presence, shows them that what matters is their worth before God. They believe in themselves as good, as blessed. And all because of a good man who was in solidarity with them.

What for you? What for me? We are his disciples. Who are the Samaritans in our time?”

Who are those who need their humanity affirmed? Who are those on the outside looking in? Who are the embattled? How can I help? How should we help? The spiritual life, my fellow Christians, is to live as humanly as possible. It is to bind up the wounds of the broken hearted, as well as the wounds of those who hunger and thirst for justice. The spiritual life is not separated from daily life. May we never fear to acknowledge and live out of this truth. May our witness continue to make a community like ours a blessing in and for the world.

David J. McBriar, O.F.M.






Gospel Jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.A woman of Samaria 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,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
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