3rd Sunday of Lent: Year A

The Exodus reading is difficult if we don’t take it deep enough. At the surface we have a narrative where God’s people whine and God seems to withhold basics, providing water only after a scene has been made. Beneath the water shortage is an accusation that God’s plan is to kill the people and a non-denial of that charge by God. Of course water is urgent in the wilderness, and anyone would complain when it runs short. So this reading deserves better than a superior disquisition about foolish faithlessness of the Israelites. What’s being negotiated is the gift of liberation and more fundamentally the gift of relationship: how Israel is to become distinctively God’s people. Their discourse efficiently suggests they are still wondering if Pharaoh is the better choice. There are quite a few of these "murmuring stories" sprinkled through Exodus and Numbers, and it’s worth reflecting on why this negative dynamic needs so much attention. A similar though less antagonistic discussion shows up in the gospel reading, helping us see, perhaps, that in both narratives the participants are "playing symbols": Water is life, God is life, relationship with God is life, humans are thirsty and water-dependent. Water is a deep and rich way to suggest what is on offer. God "isn’t" water, but we can see in the symbol how giver, gift and gifted meet "in the water," and why it needs lots of discussion. And in our warming world, with its uneven distribution of goods, there are plenty of other points to make too. Barbara Green, O.P.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pa., speaks during a meeting in late January at the headquarters of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
“I think we need complete transparency if we’re going to get the trust of the people back,” said Erie Bishop Lawrence T. Persico.
Mélanie Thierry as Marguerite Duras in “Memoir of War.” © Music Box Films
The film tells the story of a woman who worked for the German-controlled Vichy government but secretly joined the Resistance movement.
A. W. Richard Sipe (photo: Facebook)
Sipe's research into celibacy and priestly sexual behavior helped guide the work of church leaders and others responding to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Catholic News ServiceAugust 17, 2018
Did Pope Francis depart from Scripture and tradition in declaring the death penalty "inadmissible"? Or was his declaration rooted deeply in both?
Tobias WinrightAugust 17, 2018