Homily ·Lent
By Archbishop Gomez
Anaheim, CA
March 24, 2019

My brothers and sisters in Christ,1

So, once again we are coming to the end of another Religious Education Congress. It has been a beautiful weekend, hasn’t it?

I hope that it has been a few days, just as I was saying before, of growing personally in our own spirituality and in our desire to become missionary disciples and going out and sharing with everybody the beautiful truth of our faith.

I think it’s also wonderful for us to gather during this holy season of Lent — as we are seeking to purify ourselves through this time of intense devotion to prayer and self-denial and the works of mercy.

But today is a very special day, as we all know. On this day, 39 years ago, St. Oscar Romero was martyred as he celebrated the Holy Eucharist. It is today as his feast day now that he is St. Oscar Romero.

Tuve la alegría de estar en Roma en Octubre pasado y concelebrar la Misa de Canonización de San Oscar Romero. Seguro que algunos de ustedes estuvieron ahí también. Fue un hermoso momento para la Iglesia Universal.

And as we know, he was a bishop who thirsted for justice and peace for his people. So, we especially want to pray for his intercession as we today continue to reflect on the theme of this Congress, “Thirsting for Justice.”

St. Oscar Romero used to say that every injustice begins in the human heart. So, when we thirst for justice we are thirsting to “get right” with God. We are thirsting for holiness, for love and mercy, for a society that reflects God’s beautiful intentions for creation.

And as we heard in our Gospel today, Jesus is also “thirsting for justice.” This beautiful story that we heard, about the woman at the well, is an ancient catechesis on Baptism.

It begins with a touching portrait of the humanity of Jesus. He is tired from his journey and thirsty. In the hot sun at noon, he sits down at the well. And he asks the woman of Samaria, “Give me a drink.”

Jesus is thirsty, but he is not thirsty for water. He is thirsting for this woman’s faith.

He knows that the Samaritan woman is longing for something more, for transcendence. In her life, she keeps going back to this same well. But still she cannot satisfy her thirst, still she cannot not find what she is really looking for — which is true love, true happiness.

And my dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that this woman that Jesus meets at the well — she is you and she is me.

In this holy season of Lent, Jesus once again is coming to meet all of us at “the well” of our own human desire. Jesus makes himself thirsty in order to show us how much we are thirsting for him, how much we are looking for the living God.

Jesus está invitando a la samaritana y a cada uno de nosotros a tener un diálogo que nos llevará a la conversión continua, a la salvación.

Quiere que una vez mas se remuevan las aguas del Bautismo que recibimos hace ya tantos años años.

Jesus le dice a la Samaritana -y nos lo recuerda también a nosotros- que el Bautismo es un regalo de Dios para todos los que creen en El.

El Bautismo es nuestra salvación, el agua viva que nos hace hijos de Dios, y hace posible que adoremos a Dios Nuestro Señor en espíritu y verdad.  

My dear brothers and sisters, we should be so grateful for our Baptism!

Pope Francis always asks us the question: Do you remember the day of your baptism? Not that you remember — do you know it — cause we were babies. So, do you know the day of your baptism? Now I know that I was baptized on January 5th — so, I’m okay. If you don’t know the day of your baptism, check it out!

So we should be so grateful for our baptism. The Lord has given us to drink from this river of living water that flows from his Sacred Heart. He has satisfied the deep thirst of our souls, the deep longing that we have to know God’s love. As St. Paul says today in the second reading: 

The love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

And now, Jesus is sending us out into this world to finish his work, to bring this beautiful gift of salvation to the men and women of our times.

Our Baptism gives us a beautiful mission, a great responsibility. And I think this weekend has been a special time for all of us to reflect on that beautiful gift that we have received. This is what we see with the woman at the well. She leaves behind her water jar and she goes back to the town to tell her people — to come and see, to come and meet Jesus.  

You know, it is interesting to hear what St. Oscar Romero said about this passage of the Gospel. He said:

“… the Samaritan woman has become an apostle, and like an apostle she attracts many people to Christ. … We could call this final scene ‘the hour of the Church.’ It is no longer Christ himself who preaches, rather he preaches through the Samaritan woman. He preaches through all those who come to believe in him.”2

My brothers and sisters, now we are living, again, in this “hour of the Church.” As we all know, this has been a hard year for the Church, a moment of reckoning in which many painful truths have been revealed.

But we need to live with hope in Jesus Christ! He will never abandon us!

Jesus is calling us today, just as he calls the Samaritan woman. He is calling us back to the well, to renew ourselves in the living waters of his Spirit.

The reform of the Church requires that each one of us — everyone: clergy, religious, lay people — all of us renew our baptismal commitment — to holiness, to being missionary disciples like the Samaritan woman.

Jesus is still seeking souls, but now he does that through you and through me. He sends us out into the desert of this world of secularization and globalization, this world of machines and electronics and material promises of happiness.

Jesus quiere que seamos discípulos misioneros en nuestro tiempo y nuestros contemporáneos son como los Israelitas en el desierto en la primera lectura de la Misa que acabamos de escuchar. Cuando tienen sed no sienten la presencia ni el amor de Dios.

La misma pregunta que los Israelitas hacen es la misma que nuestros contemporáneos nos están haciendo: Esta el Señor entre nosotros o no?Este es el reto que tenemos en la sociedad secularizada en la que vivimos. Nuestra mision es mostrarles que si! Que Dios esta entre nostros!  

This is our mission! Each one of us needs to be the “Samaritan woman” in our time and place.

We need to help our neighbors to know that the Lord is near. We need to help our neighbors to know that he loves us and that he has died for us and that he has a beautiful plan for our lives.

Today, as we ask for this special grace to really be the Church, the people of God — today I want to share with you, as we ask for the grace to renew our missionary zeal, these words of Pope Francis in the homily of the Canonization Mass of St. Oscar Romero, words that are helping me personally.

The Pope said:

“Jesus is radical. He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart. ... We cannot give him, who offers us eternal life, some odd moment of time. Jesus is not content with a “percentage of love”: we cannot love him twenty or fifty or sixty percent. It is either all or nothing.”3

So, let us stay thirsty for justice! Let us keep thirsting to bring others to open their hearts, to hear his voice, and to know his love. Let us be apostles who attract many people to Christ. Let us thirst — as Jesus thirsts — for the salvation of every soul.

And may our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for us and may she help us to meet the challenges of our time with hope and a generous spirit — that all may drink deeply from the living water that wells up to eternal life.

St. Oscar Romero, pray for us! Ruega por nosotros!

1. Readings (3rd Sunday of Lent [A]): Exod. 17:3-7; Ps. 95:1-2, 6-9; Rom. 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42.

2. Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent (February 26, 1978), in A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to his People: The Complete Homilies of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Convivium, 2015), 2:274.

3. Pope Francis, 10/14/18.

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