I remember years ago when I was getting ready to go to Las Vegas for the first time, a friend who is a doctor and had lived out there had warned me to drink lots of water. Unlike Virginia where we know when we are sweating, in Las Vegas it evaporates so quickly you don't even notice. Dehydration is a condition that can sneak up on us and we don't realize it unless it reaches crisis level.
The cycle A readings for the Third Sunday of Lent (used when there are people in the RCIA preparing to be baptized at Easter) focus on water. We see in a compressed form the woman at the well as her understanding develops. She goes from calling Jesus simply "Sir"to a "prophet", to finally coming to understanding that he is the Messiah. She goes from thinking he is taking about literal water to understanding that he is taking about a deeper spiritual reality.
At the beginning of lent we all selected forms of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that we were going to do every day during Lent. Today's readings focus us on the role of prayer.
In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Romans that
the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
In the gospel Jesus tells us:
...whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
At our baptism that spring was placed in each of us. And through our regular reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we have access to the source from which the spring draws its water.
But we should keep in mind that Jesus says, "whoever drinks." We can have all the water in the world, but if we never stop to drink it, we will die of dehydration. Prayer is how we drink. And like drinking water most of us probably don't drink often enough.
Many people know that Muslims traditionally pray five times per day. But many Christians do not know that we traditionally prayed seven times a day, once every three hours. We need to recover this routine of pausing regularly throughout the course of the day to stop and drink. Even if is just a sip.
Prayer does not have to be something we do only when we have 15-30 whe we can escape the world. It can be as simple as a brief turning to God as we are moving from one place to another during the day, or moving from one project to another.
How many of us stop to say a blessing before we eat? Imagine if you adopted the simple rule "Nothing goes in my mouth until I have thanked God for it."
The drive to work and home can be another time to turn to God.
Many of us are walking around all the time suffering from spiritual dehydration. We are thirsty and we don't even know it. As we move through this third week of Lent, let us pay attention to how often we pause to drink from the spring. Turn the routine actives of your daily life into reminders to pray.
Jesus has given us the spring, let us drink from it.