MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the scandal of Jesus being with a woman. What is this stuff about worshiping on a mountain all about? What does it have to do with my life and my attitude? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent to find out. Please read John 4:5-42. #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Samaritan #Lent #WhoNeedsASavior
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 3/23/2014 The 3rd Sunday of Lent.
Please pause this audio and read John 4:5-42.
Jesus is the Savior for everyone. Maybe we ought to ask, “Is he the Savior for me?”
If you have a rather conservative overbearing Christian relative who seems to be somewhat judgmental, very strict in their faith, who has unique and somewhat strange practices that they insist must be done, and have the center of their church in a particular place that is holier than yours, then you have the equivalent of a Samaritan in your family. Samaritans, oh Samaritans! What shall we do with thee?!
It is not as if the Samaritans have no claim to being true Jews. Schechem, which is where Jesus and the Samaritan woman are in this passage, is a pretty significant place in the history of our faith. It is the first place where Abraham, the father of nations, stopped to build an altar to the Lord as he arrived in “the Promised Land.” Wait, there is more.
It is in this spot where we heard last week that God promised Abraham the “Promised Land.” It is on that very spot, at Jacob’s well, where Jacob bought this patch, set up his tent, and made an altar to the Lord. It is on that mountain where Joseph, the son of Jacob, was returned after he died in Egypt and was buried, right there on that spot. Jacob, if you recall, was renamed “Israel.” So, the fact that “Israel” built an altar in that spot is significant. Finally, it is in that spot that Joshua renewed the covenant that the Hebrew people had with God after they had secured the Promised Land as their own.
So, when the Samaritan woman says, ‘you say that we must worship in Jerusalem,’ she is saying a mouthful. It is this sticking point and other rigorous religious practices that separated the Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day. The Jews did not speak to Samaritans. Proper worship was at the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the only place. It was the place where they were told to worship by God. Yet, Schechem has a longer history than Jerusalem. Hence, the bad blood between the two.
Now, along comes Jesus to the area near Schechem. Really! I have to say that our Lord has a habit of sticking his finger in the eye of the Jewish leaders and their customs. Here, Jesus talks to a woman. That is a “no-no” for a Rabbi. What is even more is that he is talking to a Samaritan! This is no accident. In verses 1 and 2 of this chapter, the Jewish leaders are getting reports that Jesus’ crew is baptizing more people than they are. Jesus comes, of all places, to Samaria where the division is deep to escape the wrath of the Jewish leaders.
Before the Samaritans think I am giving them a get out of jail free card, Jesus puts the Samaritan Woman in her place when he says, “Salvation comes from the Jews.” Yes, this is all true. The Jewish people have their special claim that they are God’s people. Through them are the promises. Through them is the Law and Commandments. Through them are the prophets who call us to a holy life. It is through them the way of Salvation is told and shown. It is from the Jews that the Messiah will come, and has come.
So, which is it? Who is more important? Who is more special? On which mountain shall we worship God?
The answer to this question is at the beginning of this book. Jesus is the Word made flesh. It is through the Word that all creation was created. If that is the case, then the Savior may come from the Jews, but he came to serve the whole world. The one through whom the whole world, the Samaritan World and the Jewish World, was made, is the same one through whom all things are made new. So, the answer is that we do not worship in only one place. The whole of the earth is God’s holy playground. It is all God’s temple. More than that, the fact that Jesus hangs out with Samaritans, Jews and sends his apostles to the Gentiles, means that Salvation is for all and worship can be anywhere. No one, I mean no one, has a claim on God. It is God who claims us all.
Why is this important? It is important because people who are ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ have a tendency to get all fancy pants about it. Somehow, people who are Conservative Catholics look down on the “Liberals.” The Liberals scoff at the Conservative Catholics. The Catholics look down on the Protestants. Even the latest incarnation, the “Spiritual but not religious” crowd is as haughty as they come. Just try to be accepted for your spirituality if you are religious around them. The side looks, the snickers, the laughter, the scoffing, it is all there from even the “spiritual but not religious” crowd, too.
Today’s passage tells us that we just need to stop. Stop it. We need to stop the name calling. We need to stop the posturing. We need to stop the claim of superiority. The claim to superiority means that we are claiming the power and wisdom of God. There were two other people who claimed the power and wisdom of God, they were named Adam and Eve, and look what happened from there. We claim religious superiority. We claim spiritual superiority. We claim political, social, economic, emotional, psychological, and intellectual superiority, as if we are the Savior of the world. There is indeed a Savior. We are not him.
Maybe, no indeed, it is time that we stop claiming superiority and claim some humility that it is not only on our mountain that God is worshiped. God is worshiped wherever God chooses to be worshiped. God works through who God chooses. God will not be contained by us. God will not be manipulated by us. Who is it exactly that needs a Savior? God needs no Savior.
This third Sunday of Lent, we need to look at ourselves. We need to look at our bogus claims of superiority. Who is superior but God? We ought to bow down before him. We ought to serve the poor and outcast for him. We ought to love others, especially our enemies, for him. We ought to drop our petty grudges because of him. There is one Lord. There is one faith. There is one Baptism. There is one God and Father of us all. There is one Savior of the world and we ought to ask him to be our Savior now so that we may worship him in spirit and truth. So, ask him now. Renew your relationship with him now. Ask for forgiveness now. Amen? Amen.
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