Spirituality and Ethics

The sacrament of Baptism is highlighted in our readings today:

Moses, providing water for the exodus journey of the Israelite people. 

St. Paul, reminding us that this water of the Spirit has been poured forth in great abundance. 

Jesus, referring to himself as the source of living water to the woman at Jacob’s well.

Baptism – living water.

In the first reading, from the Book of Exodus, a crowd argues with Moses, but it is clear that their argument is really about God. Their sin: their failure to appreciate what God had already accomplished for them in freeing them from slavery in Egypt especially. This is a common sin that anyone can fall prey to – in the midst of a new challenge – like the Coronavirus – forgetting that God is still with us.

“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart” is the Psalm refrain. In other words, do not commit the sin of obstinacy that your ancestors committed. Continue to trust in God, the “rock of our salvation” regardless of the circumstances you are encountering. God, the Good Shepherd, is still guiding us.

In the reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Paul reflects on God’s grace and how it has been poured forth superabundantly after the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the giving of the Spirit. Unmerited by us, a gratuitous gift. The life in the Spirit places those who believe in a state of peace with God, which gives us hope.

The Spirit gives us certainty of future glory.

The gospel story presents us with both ordinary and extraordinary moments: Jesus tired from a day’s walk with his disciples; they go off to buy some provisions for the day; a well that has water to quench his thirst; a woman from the nearby town coming for water as she probably did each day: ordinary activities. And then the story gets interesting.

Put yourself in the woman’s “shoes.” (or sandals!) She is startled to hear a Jewish man at the well asking her for a drink, she a Samaritan. Jews considered Samaritans to be unorthodox, having departed from a number of traditional beliefs; in John’s gospel they are seen as “half – Jews.” And then, his insight into her private life; “how on earth could he know that,” she thinks to herself! What is in store for her is an unexpected journey of faith.

She speaks to Jesus of natural water; he speaks to her of spiritual water – “living water,” a special gift of God. Grace. “A spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus gives her the opportunity to grow in faith. She, this many times married woman – a sinner in the eyes of her townsfolk - accepts his invitation and asks him to give her this kind of water. (no transgression is so great as to keep us from the

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Homilies Virtue Ethics The Spirituality of Work: At Home Empathy in the Time of COVID-19 The Mercy of God Enables Us to Change Our Ways Autobiography in 5 Chapters Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Blessed are the Peacemakers The Reign of God Part II The Reign of God Key Mottos Qualities of Heroic Leadership A New Year Reflection Civility Compassion I Love My Country Integrity and Courage Joy Joy and Hope Living a Virtuous Life Living a Virtuous Life: More Readers Response Living a Virtuous Life: Readers Respond Living Water Love Post-Election Reflection Responses to the Feb-March Issue The Real Las Vegas What is Patience?
The Spirituality of St. Ignatius Ten Ethical Lessons The Our Father The Beatitudes The Ten Commandments Other Topics About Fr. Max Oliva, SJ


Jesuit Retreat Center of the Sierra
The Jesuit Retreat Center of the Sierra is an adult, youth, and family retreat center in Applegate, Placer County, California, for nonprofit groups of 20-130 (105 guests overnight; +25 additional beds in summer only).