Click the links under My Blog List to get to Chinese and English weekday homilies.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A, 19.03.2017

Exodus 17:3-7 / Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 / John 4:5-42

There are some phrases in the English language that we have heard of that sound rather odd. And if we don’t know the meaning, then it would be really amusing.

One such phrase is “to kick the bucket”. It means, bluntly speaking, to die. So, if we say that a person has kicked the bucket, it means that the person has died.

But if we don’t know what “kick the bucket” means, then we might wonder or even ask if the foot was injured.

There are many theories of how that phrase came about. One of those theories was that it originated from the Catholic practice of putting a bucket of holy water at the feet of a dead person so as to bless the body after prayer. But what has it to do with kicking the bucket, that wasn’t clear.

Another term that is connected with “kicking the bucket” is this “bucket list”. The meaning is quite obvious: before one kicks the bucket, one would make a bucket list, i.e, a list of things to do before one dies.

So, instead of saying what the things you want to do before you die, you can just simply say that you have a bucket list. (Sounds nicer right?)

So, do we have a bucket list? And what is in that bucket list? 

It may not be about going to the moon and exploring outer space, but it may be about looking into our hearts and to have inner peace.

Today’s gospel passage is commonly called “the Samaritan woman at the well”. And there is even a hymn about it that goes like this: Like the woman at the well I was seeking, for things that could not satisfy. And then I hear my Saviour speaking, “Draw from my well that never shall run dry.”

This Samaritan woman is interesting as well as mysterious. She is not known by name; she came to draw water at the sixth hour, which is around noon time, and that is the hottest time of the day in that region.

That already tells us that she wanted to avoid people and that her reputation in the town was on everyone’s lips.

She had a bucket with her to draw water, that was when she encountered Jesus and He asked her for a drink.

And with that a discussion about water began between Jesus and her, and then she got interested about the living water so that she may never be thirsty and never have to come to the well again to draw water.

And that was literally her bucket list: that she may never be thirsty again and never have to draw water from the well again.

And Jesus wanted to fulfill her wishes, on one condition – to call her husband here. 

And that was when her bucket started leaking. Jesus had told her everything she had done. She could decide to continue the conversation, or she could tell Jesus to mind His own business.

And here we must give credit to that Samaritan woman for her courage and humility to face Jesus even though she could be embarrassed and ashamed about herself.

And for that she had her bucket list granted, although not in the way she had expected. Because she forgot about her thirst and even hurried back to the town to tell the people about Jesus, the very people she had wanted to avoid. She would still be thirsty and she would still have to come to the well to draw water. But something had changed.

That was the Samaritan woman at the well, and her bucket had a new meaning for her.

And what about us? What is in the bucket of our hearts and do we want to show it to Jesus?

The Samaritan woman in today’s gospel in a way reminded me of a lady who was going through the RCIA journey. I remembered this lady because her attendance in the journey was not that regular because of one issue after another.

There is usually an interview before baptism when I have to ask the catechumens about their decision for baptism.

When this lady came to see me for the interview, I asked her if she wanted to be baptized, and I half-expected her to say that she was not ready for it.

To my surprise, she said, “Yes, I want to be baptized.” And of course I asked why.

Her reply was astonishing and amazing. She said, “I want to be baptized because now I am not afraid to die.”

She explained that one day, her young son looked troubled. When she asked him what was the matter, what her son said shocked her.

Her son said, “I don’t want mummy to die, and I am also scared to die.” Probably he had seen a movie or read something about death and loneliness.

That set her thinking and searching. She came to the RCIA, heard about Jesus, came to know about life after death, and about the eternal life that Jesus wants to offer her.

So despite the issues that hampered her from a regular attendance at RCIA, she heard enough for her to have an answer to death and about life hereafter.

So after hearing her story, what else can I say but a “Yes” for her baptism.

That brings us back to look at our bucket list. What is it that we are looking for and seeking for?

All things will come and go but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Only Jesus can give us that living water that will turn into a spring and welling up to eternal life.

May we long only for that living water that only Jesus can give. 

Only that can fill up the bucket of our hearts.