[Sunday Eucharist is celebrated in a Catholic parish situated in a Hong Kong housing estate. Fr. Gene Thalman M.M., ordained 1960 is a Maryknoll missioner, helps out on Sunday in this parish. And Father enjoys sharing with you his weekly struggle to make the Word of God relevant to this particular community. He also appreciates an e-mail occasionally. [ HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]]
DATE \@ "MMM. d, yy" Feb. 18, 05 Third Sunday of Lent (A) John 4: 1-42
I wince whenever the word “grace” sneaks into one of my homilies. “On this holy feast day we receive an outpouring of grace.” “Grace” sounds like a beautiful mysterious word that only smart theologians understand. Of course we know that grace is good for us and when that by coming to Church we get more grace—whatever it is. But we don’t get goose pimples of delight. We should!
Fortunately for us in Hong Kong we use characters (picture-words). `The Chinese character for grace is a “dragon” under a “roof.” According to Chinese mythology, dragons bring good fortune. I would be very fortunate if I were to have my very own dragon living under my roof. (In this homily we will not consider the problem of the space required by even a small dragon.)

JESUS’ GIFT Today’s gospel is about giving gifts. Jesus wanted to give a gift to someone who despised Jews. This someone had gone through five husbands—like when we catch cold and dispose of Kleenex. The other ladies in the village thought she was a tramp and so she had to go to the well in the heat of the day when the other ladies were at home. Jesus enjoyed the challenge of changing sassy and obnoxious people into disciples.
Jesus is smart salesman in the way he begins this conversation. He might have said: “God loves you. Get on your knees! Repent and dump your sixth husband.” With that that approach, the Samaritan lady would have replied: “Mr. Jew, mind your own *#&@x business.” End of conversation.
Instead Jesus cut through four hundred year of historical of ethnic hatred by saying: “You, a Samaritan who hates Jews, give me a drink.”
Then he arouses her curiosity by talking about “living water.”
She wasn’t polite. She doesn’t even give Jesus the honorific “Sir.” Jesus ignores the insult and the struggle begins-a brilliant sell job. Salesmen have to be humble and take a lot guff.
Jesus’ sales objective is to give the lady a gift. But first he humbly asks her for a little gift to start the dialogue. Jesus wants to share with her “living water”. By “living water” Jesus means what the learned theologians call sanctifying grace. The term, “sanctifying grace” means God’s most precious gift. Sanctifying graces is the gift that enables someone like you and me to have God living in our house and sharing life with us. And one day living God’s life forever.

We think of getting gifts at Christmas time. But in Lent and Easter we receive the greatest gift of all: This gift is called grace. By his death and Resurrection Jesus gives us the gift of God’s life. God lives under my roof, within my very self and within this community gathered at |St. Patrick’s this morning. And this gift continues to grow in us as we share deeper and deeper in God’s life. And God keeps giving us new ”graces” or “gifts”.
Paul talks about this same gift when he says: “It is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this STATE OF GRACE in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory.” The “state of grace” is a situation in which we are constantly receiving gifts from God through Jesus. “Grace” is like a child living in the house of a loving and rich father. And the father is continually giving beautiful gifts to the child. But the greatest gift is that the child shares the life of the father.
Our new Catechism uses very precise language. It says that grace is God’s special gift so that we can be partakers of the divine nature and share the very life of God. Our new Catechism calls this gift “deifying grace.”
“The grace of Christ is the … sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism.” (Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.) (Ibid., #1999, p. 484.)
“But whoever drinks the water I give him
will never be thirsty;
no, the water I give
shall become a fountain within him,
leaping up to provide eternal life.” (John 4:14)“Sanctifying grace … enable[s] the soul itself [a human person]
to live with God
and to [always]
act by his love.
Now you can see why I don’t like to use fancy words like sanctifying grace. We preachers use them so much that everyone forgets what Jesus meant. Jesus never used the word sanctifying grace [Jesus didn’t have the opportunity to study theology]. So the best word he could think of to describe this marvelous gift of sanctifying grace was “living water.”
As far as I am concerned all you got to remember is that God’s best gift to us is
the privilege of living in his house
right now and forever!

During this period of Lent, we will be especially alert and keep our hearts open whenever and whatever our Savior wishes to give to us. At the same time we will be grateful to Jesus because of what he did for us in his passion, death and resurrection—just so we will enjoy the gift of sanctifying grace.
If you will try to think about the “dragon under your roof” or “grace” during the coming week, please don’t raise your hand. If you think that you will not think about the “dragon under your roof” or “grace”, do raise your hand.

DATE \@ "MMM. d, yy" Feb. 18, 05 Third Sunday of Lent (A) John 4: 1-42 Third Sunday of Lent (A) John 4: 1-42
I do not like to use the English words grace or sanctifying grace in a sermon. Sanctifying grace, unless enthusiastically explained, tends to dissolves into an amorphous mass of harmless Jell-O.
TWO WORDS: Deifying or Sanctifying Grace
THEME: To arouse an awareness of the preciousness of our sanctifying and deifying gift so that we will be continually living in God’s grace and continually acting accordingly.
TEXT: “’the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.’”
“A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to the question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: ‘Asked if she knew that she was [living] in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it, if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’” (Acts of the trial of St. Joan of Arc.) Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #2005, p. 486.
[Alternate Finale: I now ask you to repeat the words of St. Joan: “If I am…..” Try it once more. Very good! Raise your hand if during the coming week, you will not repeat these words several times each day.]“Grace is favor, and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons [and daughters], partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), #1996, p. 483.
“The grace of Christ is the … sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification. (Cf. Jn 4:14; 7:38-39.) [Emphasis added: ET] (Ibid., #1999, p. 484.)“Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace [is] the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call…” [Emphasis added: ET] Ibid., #2000, p. 484.TIDBITS
Words are the preacher’s best friends. Treat each word as if you were a poet. Respect the unique personality of each word. The delicate selection of vocabulary enables us to speak forcefully, enjoyably, without repetition and without boring the pants off people.
DESIRE RESULTS Father, last week when you asked who would not think about the “dragon under my roof”, I determined that I would not give it a thought. I raised my hand showing that I would not think about it once. But all week I couldn’t get it out of my head the dragon and the marvelous gift that Jesus won for me. That was devious! Father, how do you live with yourself?
DATE \@ "MMM. d, yy" Feb. 18, 05 Third Sunday of Lent (A) John 4: 1-42NAME ________ GRADE_____________
Explain why Jesus started the conversation with the Samaritan woman be asking for a drink of water? ____________________________________________
How would you feel if you had a dragon living with you?
3. What is the best gift that God gives us? s_____________ g_____
When Jesus offers the Samaritan woman “living water” he is introducing to her the
deep idea of s__________ or d_________g grace.
How did Jesus win for us this gift of God’s own life?
_____ T/F If Mrs. Wong serves the poor and does a lot of stuff for God, she has a right to get more gifts from God.
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