Third Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

Two unclad little children were playing at the beach one morning; the boy belongs to a Catholic family while the girl comes from a Protestant family. The girl said: “I wonder why my parents tell me that you Catholics are different from us Protestants?” Examining their bare bodies, the girl was saying: “Look, you have two eyes and I have two eyes too; you have two ears and I have two ears too; you have a nose and I have it too.” As they were going further down, the girl looked at herself and then looked at the boy, she suddenly exclaimed: “Now I know why we Protestants and you Catholics are really different. “ You will be the one to judge what is it, just look at yourself.

St. John tells us of the beautiful story of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. The woman draws water from the well at noon. Very unusual since this is not the best for doing this. Jesus is there sitting in the well asking water from her. And the woman reminds Him of the social norms that govern the interaction between Jesus and Samaritans. The Samaritan woman said to Jesus: “You are a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Before this event took place, there was a depth conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews.

The Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Samaria in 722 B.C. and most of its citizens were brought to Assyria to work as slaves. During this time, pagan settlers began to inhabit the conquered land. When the Jews returned from Assyria in 538 B.C., they intermarried with the pagans, a big, bog no in the eyes of Orthodox Judaism. The southern kingdom, whose capital was Jerusalem, alienated these Samaritans who were considered as having lost their racial purity and Jewish heritage. The Samaritans and the Jews started an embittered hatred alongside with their socio0political and religious differences.

Besides, rabbis did not talk to women in public. Thus, the Samaritan woman was surprised and even hostile when Jesus who is considered by them as a rabbi asked for her a drink. Still, this is unusual and surprising. That is why she said: “You are a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” But Jesus leads her to a mystery by saying: “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst…” (v. 14). In other words, Jesus, together with His love, is the living water.

I remember the song entitled, Ikaw, which runs this way:

Ikaw and aking panaginip, ikaw and tibok ng dibdib

            Pusong umiibig dinggi’t umaawit, tinataghoy ay pag-ibig.

             Ikaw ang ligaya sa buhay, sa piling mo’y walang kamatayan

            Puso ko’y nangumpisal, sa Birheng dalanginan

            Na ang pangarap koy’ ikaw.

In the year 1996, it was declared by the United Nations as the International Year for Women and the month of March was declared as National Women’s Month, so let us talk about women.

NASSA news magazine published sometimes in 1995 said that women are regarded as the weaker sex, inferior and subservient to men. Weak, sublime, passionate, compassionate, and capable of great suffering and never inflict pain to anyone. This is the principle of a patriarchal society.

Philippine society, which is 55% women, is male-dominated. Just look at our government offices, executive body, legislative body and even our judicial body, they are dominated by men. Even in our church, our ordained cardinals, bishops and priests are men. According to the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines that they are the one mostly involved in the church evangelizing and liberating mission. They are active in advocating justice and peace issues. They have regularly assumed the leadership in many church-related organizations, charitable and educational institutions. Men are inactive, (PCP II no. 386).

When it comes to labor, they perform the most backbreaking, lowest paid and unrecognized task in and outside of their homes. They perform the most difficult jobs of the traditionally unpaid family labor in the countryside.

Filipino women are treated as outcasts and second-class citizens in receiving countries. Their darker skin tone exposes them to discriminations, humiliations and harassments including rape. In Singapore, domestic helpers are required to take pregnancy tests every six months to ensure that they would not marry Singaporeans. Worse is in Europe, sleeping quarters lack heaters during winter. Sometimes they sleep at the back of refrigerators to avail of some heat. They went there for economic reasons.

In our country, women are even exploited by media particularly print, television and cinema. Thousands of women are driven by economic reasons into flesh trade industry as prostitutes. Philippine Law states prostitution is a crime against the public. But our government legitimized the promotion of sex industry by calling the workers as “hospitality girls” or “entertainers or “japayuki”. It sounds good but they dance naked in front of men. They are exposed to health hazards like AIDS, venereal diseases and others. Out of 100 Filipinos tested with HIV, 73 were hospitality girls.

Many suffer domestic violence. Even husbands are raping their wives. According to Alliance of Women’s Organizations, seven out ten battered women never seek help especially if the assailants are their husbands. May be for them it’s normal for a wife to be beaten by husbands. The study also showed that seven out of ten battered women are legally married to their abusers; six out of ten men were lucid when they beat their wives; eight out of ten men who beat their wives are employed. So my advice for women, learn karate and other forms of martial arts to protect yourselves joke lang. There are other sad facts that happened to women.

So my dear friends let us reflect on what Jesus has done with women. He did not treat them as second-class citizens or sex objects or as mere commodities or part of the sexual recreation of men, rather, He treated them as equals with dignity and worthy of respect and allow them to be His disciples.

See Today’s Readings:  Cycle A

OPTION 01,   02,   03,   04,   05,

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