Fr. Al Risdorfer’s Homily for March 12th the 3rd Sunday of Lent


· Exodus 17:3-7

· Psalm 95

· Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

· John 4:5-42

Last week, we discussed how our quest to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, is how God planned it all along. We have been called all long, to be like our heavenly Father – to be perfect as He is.

We are called to embrace God’s plan and seek a relationship with God through Christ Jesus who is our teacher and guide. If we imitate Christ, we are heading in the right direction.

Like most interpersonal relationships this one involves two parties: each of us as individuals, or as a people - and the Creator who brought us into being and who sustains us. And like all relationships, this one takes some getting used to. It requires learning about the other, and having an openness about where the other is coming from …and it involves some willingness to adapt, to accommodate, to respond to the needs of the other.

Today’s readings -particularly that very long Gospel story – reveal something about where our partner in this relationship - God - is coming from. And I must confess, that thanks to the insight from my role model Sister Mary McGlone at NCR, but also from Fr. Ed Linton from Homiletic and Pastoral Review, this Sunday I began to see something I had missed up till now.

The really big AHA! that hit me right between the eyes, was that I suddenly became very aware of a quality of God that I had not really seen before, but that has been right there all along. And what is that? …that it is the very nature of the perfect God to be vulnerable.

Yes, our all-powerful God allows Herself to be hurt, to be in pain, to be rejected, to be untrusted, to be rejected, to be mocked, and even to be hated. Not only does God allow this, but She welcomes it, because it is through God’s, vulnerability that She allows us to tap into Her deep love for us.

Love, by definition, is selfless. Love is completely centered on the other. And as such, if the other fails to respond in kind, it doesn’t change the fact that they are loved. That God’s nature as Love itself. It means God is by nature vulnerable.

And it been there all along. Remember the Genesis story of Adam, Eve, and the apple from 2 weeks ago. God gives them life and quite literally “paradise”, but also the freedom to reject Him – which they did. Even then as the story goes, God did not destroy them, or enact vengeance on them, or consider them as horrible mistakes or abandon them. Instead, He moves them into a new environment and helps them set up shop…but even then, remains vulnerable to receiving further offenses and disappointments from them. And thus, has been the human condition ever since.

Look at the Israelites in the desert in tonight’s reading from Exodus. Despite their miraculous deliverance from the slavery of the Pharaoh, here is a great example of “no good deed goes unpunished.” For generations they prayed, begged, pleaded with the God of Abraham for a “deliverer” who would free them from Egypt’s bondage. And now that the deliverer has finally come in Moses, and that they have been led out of Egypt towards a land promised to them by God, a land flowing with milk and honey…all they have prayed for has finally happened and yet all they do is gripe and complain… AND threaten to abandon God.

Notice how God is so open to receiving their insults and their lack of faith that She does not even respond directly to them. She just says to Moses to whack that rock with your stick and let them drink. As they guzzled their water, they went silent - FINALLY.

And notice in tonight’s Gospel story about the woman at Jacob’s well, that it is Jesus, who is thirsty. It is God who is thirsty for her companionship and help. It is God who is dependent on her – a human!

Her response: she first retreats into tribal factionalism and concerns about ritual practices.

God’s response: because He desires to enter this relationship with her so much - He begins to call her to an act of faith in him. 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.”

As the Samaritan woman began to comprehend what Jesus was saying, her feistiness turned to curiosity and then to faith. She found a truth and love worthy of her and was then impelled to share it.

The water God offers never lets one get thirsty again but remains perfectly satisfying. It becomes “… a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” No wonder she says yes, I want that! And now being fully enlisted in the plan, runs, and tells her friends. Do you see how we fit in… As we respond to God’s vulnerability with faith and hope and love, we become integral to His plan.

Of course, the ultimate and perfect example of the vulnerability of our God is Jesus. From his birth and all through his maturation, the God who walked in Nazareth showed Himself as dependent on others – many others – and accepting of rejection, ridicule, and threats. He needed Mary and Joseph to nurture and protect him when he could do little for himself. He relied on others for sustenance and survival – people like Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman. He knew the fickleness of His disciples and that one of them would betray Him. And of course, when His hour had come, he offered himself to the disgrace of His trial, and His torturous death. All to show us that there is nothing our God will not do to save us and to raise us. Of Him, St John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind.” He who brought about all things, makes it that He is vulnerable to all things, because that is how love works.

And in the utmost display of vulnerability, He depends on his followers, starting with the eleven all the way down to us to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20). In the divine vulnerability, needs us to complete His creation.

That is the hope of the glory of God, which as St Paul says, we can boast of. God wants ME!! God Needs ME!! We are God’s Hope!!

And as Paul goes on, “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us….But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Now that’s something to be proud of.

As we move into the longer days of Spring toward the warmth of summer…as we continue our journey through this season of Lent towards the dawn of Easter joy, let us fall more deeply in love with the loving heart of God. Let us tell Him that his dependence on us will not be in vain…and that He can rely on our partnership with Him to bring about His new world.

That’s been the plan all along. Happy are we to be called into His trust.

May God bless you as you continue your journey to perfection. Amen