“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps 95:7-8).

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 17:3-7.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9.
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8.
John 4:5-15, 19-26, 39-42.

This Sunday’s first reading and Psalm remind us of what we heard in the readings from the first Sunday of Lent. There we heard of Adam’s temptation in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness at the start of his public ministry. Today we hear how the nation of Israel began to doubt God’s love and mercy after their Exodus from Egypt.

In the Old Testament we read how God saved the people of Israel from their slavery to Pharaoh and the Egyptians through the event called the Exodus. This is depicted in the 1956 movie, the Ten Commandments, staring Charton Heston, the 1998 animated version, The Prince of Egypt, and the 2014 epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. After God saves the Israelites from their Egyptian captors (remember the parting of the Red Sea), he leads Moses and the people into the wilderness. There, as we read in today’s first reading, the people begin to lack faith and trust in God’s love and mercy. Although they saw God’s mighty works in delivering them from Egypt (remember the ten plagues) they harden their hearts towards God.

Here, today’s second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans is timely, for it urges us to not be like the Israelites who grumbled against God in the wilderness, but to have hope. For as St. Paul says, “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us” (Romans 5:5).

This hope is echoed by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, where he meets a Sarmatian woman at a well and offers her salvation, even though she is deemed by her community to be an outcast and a sinner.

This too should give us great hope, as we continue our Lenten observance, with our eyes set on Jesus and the Easter mystery of his resurrection.

Artwork: ‘Christ and the Samaritan’ by Jacob van Oost, The Younger (1639-1713).

(Copyright © 2017).