The human body is about 60% water. The earth is about 70% water. That seems like a lot, and since water is necessary to life, you would think both are full of life. But the earth is a closed system, and so is our body. Our water supplies are finite. So, this being Lent, let’s remember the words that started this season and told us what will happen to our bodies: “Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
That’s a rather dispiriting thought on the third Sunday of Lent, isn’t it? But if you need an infusion of hope, look no further than today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. He tells us that hope springs eternal:
“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.”
Our problem is we often run dry of hope because we don’t receive that spirit. We let our connection to the world drain us of any hope of help entering a system we believe to be closed to it. We harden our hearts, just as the Israelites did after so many years in the desert. As our first reading from Exodus tells us, those people quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD in our midst or not?” They needed Moses to give them a sip of hope. God gave them one, letting Moses bring forth water from rock.
Jesus performs a similar miracle in our gospel reading. It starts with him asking for water from a woman without hope and ends with that woman abounding in hope and running off to share it with others who were similarly running dry of it.
“Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me everything I have done.’ When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them.”
Jesus stayed with them for a while, but had to leave—just as he had to leave all of us through his body’s crucifixion. But unlike a closed system filled with stagnant water, Christ’s kingdom is an open system nourished by a never-ending supply of living water known as the Holy Spirit. Open your heart to it and you open the door to that kingdom—free of dust.