3 Lent A – March 8, 2015 – Nursed With Living Water
On this Third Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2015, there is an amazing coincidence. Last week Jews celebrated the Festival of Purim. It is a joyful event honoring Queen Esther who saved the Jews from annihilation by the evil Haman. Jews today continue to rejoice in the promises of peace.
Today we Christians remember Photina,  the bold woman who bumped into Jesus at the well. Although Jews and Samaritans were enemies their meeting also gives us a story of promise and peace.
March is Women’s History month, this week is National Catholic Sisters’ Week and today is International Women’s Day. What a coincidence! We celebrate the accomplishments of women of all ages. Yet, we mourn how they continually are physically and mentally raped of their dignity and still robbed of equal status in both religious and secular cultures. We honor the women who have sustained us in good times and in bad. We commit ourselves to acknowledge and affirm them.
In the first reading from Exodus we are reminded of how God herself nursed the thirsty and impatient people of Israel with life giving water although they had given up on divine help. It is the story of a tender, motherly God nurturing her relationship with her children.
The gospel also focuses on the role a woman plays in revealing the presence of God. Both Jesus and Photina were cautious at first. Eventually they traded secrets. Neither was judgmental. Although we know Photina struggled in her relationships with others maybe she thought this stranger might be different.
Jesus — on his way to death in Jerusalem — was thirsty. Photina gave him a drink. He in turn offered her life giving water. Drinking deeply of his message of peace and justice she would not thirst again. This was a negotiated truce between enemies, an exchange of human respect and hope between strangers.
All of these women, Queen Esther, Photina, women religious, and the women in our homes and nations around the world, teach us that the ways in which we respect one another are pivotal for human well being.
Here in our midst Meg Bassinson and Jessica Burns  have made spirited decisions in their lives. Meg and Jessica are showing us that relationships with God and with one another can grow within a caring faith community.
As members of the priesthood of Christ we constitute a sacrament of unity. Baptized in living waters, we foster boundary-less relationships like Jesus did. During liturgy, which rehearses us for doing good the rest of the week, no one should feel like a stranger.
Liturgical theologian Nathan Mitchell wrote that we often forget liturgy is always an act of hospitality and pastoral care, where we make room for one another. Ours is a God who opens up space for the stranger, the other. 
In his Lenten message Pope Francis said in the Eucharist “we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this Body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts.” The next Bishop for San Diego Robert McElroy, an advocate of immigration reform, said last week, “It is important [for] the church be one of inclusion.”
Many of the problems in the world are caused not only by suspicion and hatred of those who are not like us but also a lack of respect and care for those who are like us. The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman offers another way. We who are nursed by God with living water are called to make space for others in our lives. Imagine such a world!
1. The name of the woman is not mentioned in the biblical text. The Orthodox church knows her as Photina (Svetlana in Russian) “Equal to the Apostles.”
2. Jessica is a member of the elect. Meg is a candidate for full communion. Both will be welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil.
3. Mitchell, Nathan. “The Amen Corner” in Worship 78, no. 2 (March 2004), 165-75