Third Sunday of Lent (March 19, 2017)

Today’s readings speak to the catechumens. Moses experiences a deeper faith in God’s Word. The Samaritan woman experiences a new life in Christ. St. Francis de Sales notes: There are two different lives represented in us: the “old life” and the “new life.” In the “old life” we live according to the faults and infirmities we have contracted through our human condition and culture. We are like the eagle that drags its old feathers along the ground, unable to take flight. We must let go of the old life, ‘burying it in the waters of holy baptism or penance’ if we wish to enter into the “new life.”

In the “new life” we live according to the love, favors, and will of our Savior. Our new life in Christ is salutary and redeems us. It is living, lively and life giving. It causes us to soar aloft for we are ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Our new life is like the eagle also. Having shed its old feathers, the eagle takes on new ones. Grown young again, it flies off in its new powers. Alas, some tender souls newly born out of penitential ashes may have difficulty soaring about in the open air of sacred love. While they are living, animated and winged by love, they may still have habits that their old life left in them. While we remain in this world, we can be bent either by divine love or useless loves.

When we choose to pursue useless loves, we become hesitant to approach Our Lord. This is normal. If we have offended a friend, we feel shame. But we must never live in shame. Our growth in divine love is such that an opening always remains for sudden assaults of other objects and apparent goods. We experience hesitancy in turning to God in our frailties so that we may cast ourselves even more into God’s merciful arms. Let us have the courage then to discard the old life. Let us grow in confidence to live a new life in Christ Jesus, who desires to deepen our love so that we may be eternally loving.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)