Third Sunday of Lent – Year A Readings
Reading 1:Exodus 17:3-7; Reading 2: Romans 5:1-2,5-8; Gospel :John 4:5-42
Those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth
Where relationships are true, there God is!
When the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman turned to her family, to deflect the attention away from it, she raised a provocative inter-religious issue. Clever lady! But this leads Jesus to pronounce the words that are highly significant for inter-religious dialogue and amity.
Two different and antagonistic religious traditions, even though they had a common origin, came under discussion – Judaism and Samaritanism. “Our Fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that Jerusalem is the right place to worship. Which is right?” asked the woman. Jesus replied: “Believe me, lady, the time has come already, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”
Here Jesus says that the Father does not want to be worshiped through externals like places, rites, actions, etc. At this level, all the religions differ and fight. But if one rises to the spiritual level, there one finds more unity and agreement among the worshippers. There is a difference between religion and spirituality. Religion consists of the external expressions. Spirituality is the core of the relationships that man has with God, others and the universe. While men of religion have always divided, men of the spirit have always tended to unite and relate.
What is the truth and the spirit? The truth is that God is Love and the whole universe is a web of relationships. The Spirit makes us understand this truth. There is the ‘Holy Trinity’ in this revelatory statement, God-Truth-Spirit, whom we call as Father, Son and Spirit. God is a Relationship, subsistent relationship! Hence when there is true love and relationship, with God, with each other and with the universe, there is true worship. There is no point in dividing people as Jews, Samaritans, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, killing each other in the name of God!
Christianity is in fact not a “religion” like the others, although it too has its share of externals. It is basically a relationship with God, humans and creation, a relationship, broken by sin right from the dawn of creation, but restored by the Son of God himself. When we worship through him, with him and in him, in the unity of the Spirit, all true glory and worship, is given to the Father! Such a worship truly restores our relationships!