Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

When you relate the people’s opening complaint, make them sound petulant. Then make Moses sound scared. He fears for his life and knows the success of this exodus depends on the people trusting the unseen God for an indefinite period. Help your listeners form a clear mental image of what Moses is asked to do. Go before the mob, God tells him, “holding in your hand, as you go, the staff … I will be standing there [invisible, even to you]… Strike the rock, and water will flow from it for the people to drink.” When the Lord says “Strike the rock,” your listeners should hear the “thwack” of oak on stone. Then pause. The next sentence is quite matter of fact. “This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.” The author doesn’t even feel compelled to report whether or not “it worked,” so great is his faith (in hindsight). You should say the sentence just that way.

Second Reading

These are subtle points, and your listeners won’t get them without help from the preacher. But the lector who understands them can give his or her proclamation a proper Lenten emphasis. That demands special emphasis on the last few sentences, beginning “For Christ, while we were still helpless, …” With contrasting tones of voice, describe the Lord’s great self-gift and the abject unworthiness of us sinners whom he loves.


by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

To address their need for renewal after captivity in Babylon, Jewish leaders retold the story of their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt. The story has a series of advances and setbacks, mighty deeds by God followed by difficulties. These make the people alternate between belief and doubt.

Second Reading

Some early Christians believed that pagan converts should be required to earn salvation by keeping the laws of Moses. Saint Paul knows that is not so, and much of the letter to the Romans explains how salvation is a grace, that is, an undeserved gift.


Saint John’s gospel was written, in part, to provoke a decision by people who were on the fence about converting to Christ. It shows how Jesus is continuous with their religious tradition, but stretches, breaks and fulfills that tradition.


Study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism


Exodus 17:3-7

Moses striking the rock in the desert, a prototype of baptism

Water from the rock

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

The grumbling, mistrust, and lack of gratitude shown by the Israelites as they journey through the desert is the very opposite of the attitude of faith and trust that those who seek Living Water must possess.

In the face of their grumbling, Moses, the great intercessor and mediator, lifts up his hands in prayer. In contrast to the people’s mistrust in God, Moses places his trust in his power to save his people, even his rebellious people.

When the going gets tough, when resources are running low, we are called more than ever to place our trust in God. The water pouring from the rock shows God’s care for his people. The water also prefigures the living waters of baptism.

“In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?” — Ex 17:3 (NAB)

Ps 95

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts

This well-known psalm invites us to open our hearts to the Lord and to sing joyfully to him, something the Israelites in the desert failed miserably to do, but which the Samaritan woman accomplishes very beautifully.


Twice the Psalm calls the people to praise and worship God (Ps 95:1–2, 6), the king of all creatures (Ps 95:3–5) and shepherd of the flock (Ps 95:7a, 7b). The last strophe warns the people to be more faithful than were their ancestors in the journey to the promised land (Ps 95:7c–11). This invitation to praise God regularly opens the Church’s official prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours.  (Source: NAB notes).

“Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.” — Ps 95:6-7 (NAB)

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

Pilgrim collecting miraculous water from a spring in the Grotto of Massabielle in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, France. The location of the spring was described to Bernadette Soubirous by an apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes on 25 February 1858.Click on image to view video.

Hope does not disappoint

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Paul speaks of the ‘faith that justifies,’ that makes us acceptable to God. He also reminds us that through the Holy Spirit, “the love of God has been poured into our hearts.” Our Gospel story will give us a concrete example of the love of God being poured into the heart of a nameless woman. Finally, Paul points out to us that God is so gracious that he was willing to die for us even while we were still sinners.

PHOTO:  Water flowing from rock at the grotto of Lourdes.

“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 (NAB)

Prayer for Healing

Lord, look upon me with eyes of mercy,
may your healing hand rest upon me,
may your lifegiving powers flow into every cell of my body
and into the depths of my soul,
cleansing, purifying, restoring me to wholeness
and strength for service in your Kingdom.


Matthew 17:1-9

Marble and bronze sculpture of Christ and the Samaritan Woman by Ivan Meštrović, 1883-1962 at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana — Click on image to view video.

The Samaritan woman at the well comes to faith in Jesus, the Living Water

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

This is a story of a woman coming to faith in Jesus, the Living Water, and leading others to place their trust in him.

The story opens with an image of the human Jesus. He is tired and thirsty. By speaking to a Samaritan woman in public, Jesus violates two cultural taboos, i.e., (1) Jews do not speak to Samaritans; (2) Jewish men do not speak to strange women in public. By speaking to this woman, Jesus is ignoring centuries of prejudice toward women and Samaritans.

As the story unfolds, the woman opens up to Jesus who gradually reveals his true nature to her. Initially, she calls him ‘Sir,’ then ‘prophet,’ and finally, ‘Messiah.’ Jesus reveals himself as the ‘Living Water’ whom she has been unconsciously searching for in her relationship with her five husbands.

In verses 21-24, there is a discussion about true worship. Jesus tells us that worship is not made authentic by the place where one worships (Jerusalem or Gerizim) but by the Spirit and truth in which one prays.

The Water of Life Discourse between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Angelika Kauffmann, 17–18th century

In verses 27-38, Jesus carries on a dialog with his disciples who are very surprised, if not scandalized, to see him talking to a Samaritan woman. But no one asks why he is talking to her. Then they offer him food but Jesus responds by telling them that his “food is to do the will of him who sent me” (v.34). Doing the will of his Father is the central consuming passion of Jesus’ life. He urges them to pray for more workers to come to reap the crop ready for harvest (probably a reference to the Gentiles hungry for the Good News).

Christ and the Samaritan Woman, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

In the meantime, the woman filled with the Living Water races back to her village to share her Good News. “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could this be the Christ?” The rejected and scorned woman has become a messenger of God’s love. The people invite Jesus to stay in their village. After a ‘retreat with Jesus,’ they tell the woman: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” In his writings, John is predisposed to showing how Jesus becomes known to others through a personal encounter.

Finally, this story brings alive many of the promises and verses of the Old Testament, e.g., “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is 12:3) and “All you who are thirsty, come to the water. Come without paying…without cost, drink” (Is 55:1).

Reflection Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. In the first reading, the Israelites ask: “Is the Lord with us or not?” Have you ever had that feeling? If so, what helped you deal with it? If not, what enables you to always feel that God is with you?

3. In the second reading, Paul reminds us that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. Yet sometimes we may wonder if God loves us. Why is this? What can help us to always be aware of God’s unconditional love for us?

4. The Gospel tells us that many people come to believe in Jesus because of the witness of the Samaritan woman. What made her witness so powerful? How easy or how hard is it for you to share your faith with others?

5. Jesus is the One who satisfies our deepest longings and thirsts. Yet we may sometimes look elsewhere. We may look to relationships, work or some hobby. Why is this?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

Call to Action

Make an extra effort on how you, like the Samaritan woman, can share your faith with others; in other words, how you can be a missionary disciple for Jesus.

Shared Prayer

Jesus, help me to havesuch strong love and faith in you that I may feel a strong urging to share it with others.

Closing Prayer

Blessed are you, God of all life, we praise you for the water of life you offer us. Scrutinize us, heal us, and strengthen us along with the Elect. We make our prayer through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.

In the Gospel, might we be the townspeople?

Jennifer Delvaux Preaches for the Third Sunday of Lent

[The Samaritan woman] runs back to the very town to the very people who have ostracized her, for who knows how long. She goes to those people who have not bothered to hear her voice for years and suddenly they are listening to what she has to say. She goes to those very people who tried to ignore her presence for years, but suddenly are seeing a woman transformed. By what they heard and what they saw, they are intrigued. Her testimony brings the entire town to encounter Jesus. Through her transformation, an entire town is transformed…I think we need consider whether we are the townspeople…


Introduction to 3rd Sunday of Lent Readings

EXCERPT — As we enter into the Third Sunday of Lent today’s readings focus on water and on God’s self-revelation to seemingly unworthy people. Those who are in most need of help, who appear to be unworthy, are those to whom life is given: the doubtful, the sinners, the impatient grumblers, the wanderers. We recognize our need for God’s grace and humbly open our hearts toward this transforming love.


Re-membering our lives

EXCERPT – Jesus and the woman talk about many things. They talk about living water, Jacob’s well, and true worship. But when she goes back to tell her neighbors what has happened to her, she mentions none of those weighty matters. What she says is, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done.” Her life has been changed not by theology or instruction, but because her story has been remembered by someone who accepted her without judgment. She has become a new woman not only because Jesus revealed himself to her, but because Jesus revealed her to herself. Despite her sins and mistakes, she now understands that she is a beloved daughter of God.


The symbolic sense of water”

EXCERPT — The symbolic sense of water has its roots in the Old Testament, where it is frequently a symbol for the action of the Spirit of God in people. For example, Jeremiah compares running water to water in a cistern (Jer 2:13). The more water is taken from a cistern, the less it has; the more water is taken from a stream of living water, the more it has. Other texts from the Old Testament: Isa 12:3; 49:10; 55:1; Ezek 47:1-3. Jesus knew the traditions of His people and He uses these in His conversation with the Samaritan woman. Suggesting the symbolic meaning of water, He suggests to her (and to the readers) various episodes and verses from the Old Testament.

THE ORDER OF CARMELITESLectio Divina: Sundays of Lent

Jesus get his basic needs met by asking a woman for water

EXCERPT — The scene of Jesus and the woman at the well invites us to contemplate our deep needs and desires. It begins with Jesus’ own need for water. The Gospel of John has no nativity story, no images of the baby Jesus who needed to be fed and have his diaper changed. But this scene portrays the Son God who not only shares basic human needs, but who depends on human beings. In the first movement of this scene, Jesus asks a woman to provide him with the water he needs.


The Samaritan woman and the power of women preachers

EXCERPT — Today’s Gospel reveals the power of women preachers. Jesus’ invitation to this woman is countercultural and sparks a transformative ministry to the Samaritans. The woman is an example of Christian witness and discipleship, and church leaders should heed the wisdom of the Gospel and the Lectionary which puts this passage at the center of our Lenten journey.

Many of the Samaritans began to believe because of the word of the woman. (Jn 4:39)


God’s eternal thirst for us

EXCERPT — Jesus is the stream of love between God and ourselves. We are invited to drink of the mystery, this outpouring of love, embodied in Jesus, the thirst of God in us. His “I thirst” from the cross is as much the voice of God as it is the stirring of a human heart. It is not Christ’s humanity alone that feels the parching. It is his divinity too. The story of the woman at the well, like our own rituals of baptism and the Eucharist, interprets for us the fundamental nature of our relationship to God. We are nothing without God. God is our drink. God is our sustenance.

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

Is the Lord in our midst?

EXCERPT — This blunt complaint to Moses at the end of our first reading from Exodus sets the tone for this third Sunday in Lent. One of the intriguing traits of the Bible is its refusal to idealize either the ancient Israelites of the Old Testament or the disciples of Jesus in the New Testament.In this famous incident during the exodus, we hear a refrain that happens over and over. Even as God has arranged their escape from crushing slavery, the Israelites complain to Moses, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and livestock?” — 2020 Reflections

CHICAGO CATHOLICFather Donald Senior, CP

Commentary Text: ©2019 Fr. Eamon Tobin, Commentaries & Faith Sharing PDF Handout. Images, videos, scripture verses, and other material which accompany Fr. Tobin’s text are curated by LectioTube.com. They do not necessarily reflect Fr. Tobin’s opinions or preferences. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission.
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