Undefeated: Winning Over Temptation Wk 3: Change of Heart
Yes it is the third week of Lent, and it follows that we are continuing with our special Lenten Series we call Undefeated: Winning Over Temptation. Lent is a great time to practice winning over temptation and difficulties along our life’s journey, to stay undefeated by sin. We all have different seasons in our lives. Sometimes we are more tempted to give-in to temptation and difficulty than we are at other times. When we are tempted to give in or even despair or give up, it is important to simply call to mind, we, you, or I, only need to have a change of heart. If we want to follow Jesus who is the Undefeated one, we often need a change of heart. That’s our topic for today: Change of Heart.
In the gospel we just heard Jesus call a lady to a change of heart in a beautiful and profound way. He talks to her about water. Jesus and the Samaritan woman seem to be talking about drinking water, but it’s about more than that. And the conversation we overhear, is not just about her but very much about you and me as well.
We never learn the woman’s name, maybe because she really stands for all of us in some way. She had several strikes against her. First, she was a Samaritan and there was deep-seated resentment between the Jewish people, who are Jesus’ people, and the Samaritans that was already centuries old in Jesus’ time. Secondly, she was a woman, and women were to be silent in the presence of a rabbi. Finally, she was known as a sinner. Because of her multiple marriages, she was probably shunned by the neighborhood which may explain her solitary trip to the well alone at noontime, the hottest time of the day, when nobody else was around. People usually went to the well in the morning or evening.
The Samaritan woman was a person on the margins of the society in which she lived. Jesus reaches out to her as he also does to us. Jesus knows our past as he knew hers. What interests him now is our future.
The well was the place where people gathered. In a sense, the church is our well. Here we gather with other Christians and here we too can meet the Lord. Through the Mass, the Lord speaks the truth of who we are, what we have done with our lives and what we can become if we follow him.
Finally, there is the water. We all need water. Water is necessary for human survival. But, Jesus knew she needed something more than drinking water in her life. He gradually leads her from her need of drinking water to show her the need that she has for a living, flowing, spiritual refreshment which we know as grace, which is God’s help, which comes to us in the Holy Spirit. By pursuing the needs of the body, we can forget the very real needs of our soul.
Like the Samaritan woman, we too must face the truth about ourselves in an encounter with Jesus Christ, confess our sins and come to know Jesus as Savior in our life. When we talk about being able to repent we are talking about a change in thinking, which leads to a change of heart, which leads to a change in our behavior.
But we are hesitant to repent. To repent requires humility and the willingness to say to God, “yes I have done wrong. Yes I have sinned, and Lord, I want help. I desire your help.
There are some things that keep us from being able to ask for God’s help and admit we have done wrong. Again the image of water illustrates that. In the first reading today we hear about a rock and water. I encourage you this Lent to be like Moses in the first reading and strike open the rock that blocks the flow of God’s grace into your life. Once Moses strikes the rock, God’s help flows out, God’s grace flows out, the Holy Spirit flows out. This is all symbolized by the water which flows from the rock.
So I say to you strike the rock of anger to let loose the peace of Christ within you. Strike the rock of lust to let loose an appreciation of your human dignity. Strike the rock of envy to let loose the grace of gratitude. Strike the rock of gluttony or addiction to release the grace of temperance. Strike the rock of sloth or apathy to reclaim spiritual energy and enthusiasm. Strike the rock of pride to unleash the grace of honesty. Strike the rock of greed to uncover spiritual wealth in Christ. Strike that rock through penance and confession, by changing the way we live. We have confession every Saturday at 3pm in the church chapel. When you walk out of the confessional you want to walk out with a change of heart, so you can change the way you live. That calls for life changing water, life changing grace.
Ask God to send that water flowing through you, to help you change your thinking, which will change your heart, which will change your behavior, change the way you live.
The last two weeks, we have been encouraging you to pray the prayer, throughout the day, “come Holy Spirit.” I encourage you this week pray come Holy Spirit, help me to have a change of heart. Give me the courage to go to confession. I know after you have been away for a while it is difficult to go back to confession. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage, for courage is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If you have not made a confession in a while, the priest will help you, and we have booklets to help you in place when you come for confession. And you know what? The Holy Spirit will help you. Jesus breathes out the Holy Spirit of God, which is symbolized as water flowing from the rock, and the water in the well which Jesus replaces with his very self, breathing out the gift of the Holy Spirit.
If we don’t take the call of Lent to heart, then we treat the idea of the water, the same way we often treat Jesus. We can be like someone who is thirsty and reads about water, listens to talks about water, sees beautiful banners about water, hangs pictures at home that show water, collects books about water, sings songs about water, gathers with others to hear sermons about water, joins discussion groups about water, hears stories about those who have found water until finally one day, he or she dies of thirst. What happened? He or she never drank the water.
Are you thirsty for more from life? Jesus has living water that will bring life to your life.