Oculi/3rd Sunday in Lent
27 March 2011
St. John's, Chicago, IL
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In the initial Pirates of the Caribbean film, Captain Barbosa describes the diabolical fate that has befallen him and his crew. These pirates have stolen a cursed treasure, and the result is an existence of a living death.
They cannot be killed, and yet they cannot savor life. Food has no taste and does not satisfy. Water, wine, and other drink do not quench their thirst. If wounded, they do not bleed. Feeling and sensation appear to be gone. There is no such thing as pleasure.
You may not realize it, but without the Lord, this is your existence too, ever since Eve encouraged Adam to, "c'mon, eat the fruit. Do it!" The Lord said, "In that day, you shall surely die." Granted, they did not drop with a heart attack at that very moment, yet everything changed.
Cells in their bodies started dying. Sickness, imperfections, flaws, and disappointments entered this life. Hunger and thirst began to hurt. And there began the lack of satisfying our true needs and good desires.
Without Jesus, you are lost in this life without true and lasting pleasures. You can drink rivers full of the waters of this world, and still be a heap of dry, parched skin and bones.
Today Jesus speaks to this Samaritan woman, and finds her in this situation. She is flawed, and her earthly needs cannot be satiated. She is a serial monogamist, at best. She is fornicating and cohabiting. But Jesus does not simply preach Law to her. At the right moment, He gushes forth with Gospel!
He speaks to her of living water, reminding her that the water from this well at which she sits will only quench thirst for a brief time; she will be thirsty again. But Jesus, the true well of Jacob, is a spring, a fountain of living water that bursts forth and brings an eternal satisfaction of satisfying the true needs of your body and soul.
Some will look at this Gospel text and make a big issue out of the fact that the person to whom Jesus is speaking is a woman, or a Samaritan. This is true. And much can be spoken of on these topics.
But back up and just ponder this. It does not matter who you are, what sex you are, what ethnic background you are or what neighborhood you come from; Jesus has come for you! He is living water for you! He has come to fill you with thirst-quenching, satisfying, enlivening water! He transforms you into a child of God, born of the living water that flows from our Savior's side, and cleansed and nourished by that very living Water!
No matter how much you try to fill your life with the various "waters" of this world, you will remain dry. You can run after love or desired attention from someone other than your spouse. You can pour yourself into your schoolwork or sports, other extra curriculars to escape other pressures and sadnesses and voids in your life, but nothing you will find will truly fill them. You can try to gather many friends, or find escape in your favorite music, a TV show, a movie, or a game, but your existence will remain parched and lacking true life. You will continue to be dry and wasting away.
Remember the line from the classic poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!" The seafarer is surrounded by water; yet it is salt water. To drink it as it is would be fatal. The salt would dehydrate the one drinking more than any hydrating goodness could come from the water. Such drinking can be dangerous and even deadly.
You see, the so-called waters of this world and its pleasures have the same effect as salt water. Yes. Drinking in the supposed goodness or helpfulness of thee waters of this world's vain and temporary fixes does nothing good for you. Without the Lord, searching for the satisfaction of such thirst-quenching will simply help you waste away.
Jesus, however, does not want you wasting away. He beholds your sad, dry condition, surrounded by such earthly salt waters, and steps in to intervene from your fatal saturation. He has gone to the cross and shed His blood and spilled water from His side for you. He rose from that tomb to give you life welling up from that font for you!
Our sweet Savior has reached into the waters of the raging flood and rescued His Church on board her ark. He has reached into the waters of the Red Sea, drying a path for the hundreds of thousands in His Old Testament Church to walk a dusty road between walls of water, until they safely reached the other side. He dragged Naaman in his complaining and unbelief into the Jordan, and cleansed him of disease. He placed Himself into that same river to absorb your sin. And He reached into the font, plunging Old Adam to his wretched drowning death, and raising you up as His new, righteous creature.
He who is Living Water keeps you in your baptismal grace. He washes you into life everlasting. He rejoices to call you God's own child, ... baptized into Christ! Amen.