“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95:8)
A week or so ago, I was standing in front of the church when a parishioner passed by and asked why the water in the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes that was just in front of me was turned off. I kind of smirked and half kiddingly told her that we were “awaiting the new waters of Easter”…and then I said, “I can’t lie to you. One of the pumps is broken.” But here’s the thing, even though I hadn’t intended to turn the grotto off, the waters did indeed stop flowing when Lent started. So yesterday, I stood by the church entrance again and gazed upon the barrenness of the grotto, and thought about today’s readings. The pump is being fixed and will probably be ready this week, but I decided to keep the grotto off until the Easter Vigil. We are travelling though the desert, and Lent is supposed to make us thirst for Christ.
In the first reading, the Israelites are thirsty and are grumbling against God. Even though they had seen the great works of the Lord as he led them out of Egypt from slavery into freedom, their hearts had become hardened. Yet at the Lord’s command, Moses strikes the rock at Horeb and water flows from it. God has mercy on them despite their grumbling, and quenches their thirst. In the gospel, the Samaritan woman’s heart has been hardened by sin, but Jesus still looks on her with mercy and offers her life giving waters. The Samaritan woman symbolizes the Church unredeemed that approached Christ and walks away redeemed by his life giving waters (cf. St. Augustine). Like at the rock at Horeb, Jesus strikes our hardened hearts and washes away the stains of sin with the water he offers.
But what hardens our hearts? What makes us grumble against God? Why do we approach him with skepticism as the Samaritan women initially did at the beginning of the gospel? Why do our hearts harden when we hear his voice? Quite simply, we know that if we let Jesus into our hearts, we must change. As we read the gospel about the Samaritan woman, we are able to witness her conversion and transformation from a woman going about a daily chore and closed off to the world by sin to a woman who became a true disciple that spread the word about the Messiah. Her life changed forever. When we encounter the living Christ, we should sing like the psalmist today: “Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation (Ps 95:1).” Christ is the rock of our salvation. Scott Hahn had a beautiful mediation on this during the week when tying all these readings together specifically when Jesus speaks of his “hour” with the woman: “Jesus’ “hour”…is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).” From the side of our Lord, we are cleansed, renewed, and refreshed. Allow Jesus to soften your heart this Lent. He thirsts for us. He gives us life despite our sins. How can our hearts possibly be hardened when we hear him calling out to us?