“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5:14).

(Note: There are two choices of readings in the Liturgy of the Word for Lent Week Three and Lent Week Four. This reflection will focus on Year A Readings, which are those selected for the Scrutiny of Catechumens, those seeking the sacrament of baptism this Easter.) 

Lent offers an opportunity for the faithful, together with the Elect (those seeking full communion in the Catholic Church) to experience a deep interior conversion. We are invited to a renewal of faith, hope and love through an imitation of Christ and an openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit. The Mass readings bring to mind the hope of the living waters of baptism, the faith in the light of Jesus and the love to become Christ to others by his merciful embrace. 

Hope 

Week Three of Lent begins with the Israelites grumbling against Moses because they are thirsty. Their escape from Egypt has led them into the desert. Not only are their bodies suffering, their hope is waning. Moses turns to God, who answers his plea, and provides water to satisfy their dehydration and restore their hope.

St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans gives a solid witness to hope. He writes, “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). If we are faithful, we will experience the peace of God and gain access to his grace. We must believe! If we have hope, we long for the glory of God that is now and will come. If we love, we give to others what has been given to us through the Holy Spirit. We become like Christ, thus we “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2) leading to joy rather than despair. 

Ask yourself, “Where is my hope today? What am I most hoping for? Have I or someone I know lost hope? How can I help restore this hope in Jesus Christ? 

Faith 

An encounter with Christ is possible for us today, as it was with the Samaritan woman at the well and the man born blind. These two powerful moments unveil the abundant, merciful love of Jesus. 

Similar to the Israelites, the Samaritan woman was seeking water for her physical needs. She carried her water jar to the well, where she encountered Jesus, waiting for her. St. Augustine states that her “water jar is the fallen desire of man that draws pleasure from the dark wells of the world but is never satisfied for long.” Her willingness to listen to Jesus was a moment of grace. Once she realizes he is the long-awaited Messiah, the real thirst in her soul is satisfied. She abruptly leaves the water jug, an empty vessel filled with unquenchable darkness, and runs to tell others of the encounter.

The living waters, infused by the power of the Holy Spirit, are poured upon the heads of those who answer the call, either as parents for their children or adults later in life. We dip our hands into church fonts filled with holy water and make the sign of the cross as a reminder of the living waters of Jesus Christ. Are we seeking to quench spiritual dehydration with worldly promises? Or are we seeking the living waters of Jesus through the Eucharist, through reconciliation, through prayer?

Of course, this faith requires sight: a 20/20 vision to better focus on Jesus. The healing of the man born blind gives insight into the lens of our faith. This healing, although physical, is also a spiritual healing. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” The light of Jesus eradicates our spiritual blindness, purifying our vision to clearly “see” God, and others, as God sees. In seeing we become Christ to others. We are better equipped to live the beatitudes since we can see others in the light of Christ. We become more merciful, more peaceful, more supportive, more compassionate, more focused on what it “good, and right and true” (Eph 5). 

As we continue our journey through Lent to Easter, may we grow in hope, faith and love, turning to Jesus, the source of living water and light of the life of his people.

Dow is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.