Third Sunday of Lent

Dawn rides her bike to Mass, but I’m running late so I leave fifteen minutes later and drive. I park on 17th a block before St. Matt’s, right in front of the Human Rights Campaign. After crossing over to Rhode Island, I notice that Dawn’s bike isn’t locked up in the bike racks on the side of the YMCA. Has she not arrived yet? She should be here by now surely. I wait for a minute, checking my phone to see if maybe she’s called me, maybe had a flat or something. Then I decide to walk the block down to the Cathedral, see if maybe she’s locked her bike to a pole or parking meter. Sure enough, there’s her bike about halfway down the block.

I see Monsignor at the back of the nave and say hi & give him a hug. I sent him an email Thursday night last, formally requesting a ticket to the Papal Mass in April. I wonder if he’s read it yet. He must have gotten a ton of requests. I certainly don’t ask him, though. Just keep my wondering to myself.

The choir sings Justitiae Domini rectae during the Preparation and Ad te levavi oculos during Communion, both arrangements by Palestrina. I always have fun trying to decode the Latin on my own. If figure the former is The Lord builds justice and the latter is To you I lift my eyes.

Eh. I’ve done only okay. The first is from Psalm 19, verse 8, (ChoralWiki has a typo, saying it’s Psalm 18, verse 9), and the NAB translates it as The precepts of the Lord are right. I went with the wrong -rect, apparently, thinking rectae to be some form of erect, but it turns out to be like correct. And I went a little too literal with justitiae, although the King James has it as statutes rather than precepts, but I suppose the Catholics maybe work more from St. Jerome’s Vulgate, which has the Latin as praecepta Domini recta. But now wait a minute. That’s from the Vulgate’s Psalm 18, verse 9, so maybe ChoralWiki is correct in the first place. Only now I’m thoroughly confused. Some more research for another time is definitely called for here.

I’ve nailed the second one, though, Ad te levavi oculos, quite exactly. It’s from Psalm 123, first verse, To you I raise my eyes in the NAB, and I’m not going anywhere near King James or St. Jerome this time.

We’ve got readings all about thirst today. From Exodus we get Moses striking the rock at Horeb at the Lord’s command and getting water. And from the Gospel of St. John we get the story of the Samaritan woman and Jacob’s well. It’s a really long passage but Deacon Work reads the short version, the version in brackets. Don’t usually do that at St. Matt’s. Usually always get the long version.

We get from St. John his usual specificity: he tells us this incident happens about noon. But what strikes me most is that Jesus unequivocally tells the Samaritan woman that he is the Messiah.

The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

This isn’t like Jesus asking the disciples if they think he’s the Christ, and then directing them to keep mum when they say they think so. Here he’s saying it right out. Of course, the disciples aren’t there. They’re off buying lunch. And this woman isn’t even a Jew, rather she’s one of them there pagan Samaritans. So why is he telling her?

Heck, she even asks him why he’s getting water from her in the first place, given that, as St. John helpfully tells us, For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. We have to really like her though, for almost teasing Jesus when he starts in with the living water metaphor. Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Heh. He doesn’t even have a bucket.

It’s interesting that Jesus then tells her that anyone who drinks the living water will never thirst again. But of the plain old well water, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. The Exodus story of Moses and the rock apparently contrasts a later incident in Numbers, chapter 20, forty years after the first, where the people are yet again thirsty and getting angry at Moses. They’re thirsty again, see?

In the latter occurrence, though, the Lord directs Moses to order the rock to give up its waters, not hit it. But Moses instead just hits the rock again. He succeeds in getting the water flowing, all right, but for his disobedience the Lord will never allow Moses to ever make it back to Israel.