“Sir, give me this water so that I may not be thirsty”

The Samaritan woman to Jesus at Jacob’s Well



The Church, in her wisdom, chooses the readings proclaimed at Mass during Lent to help prepare the hearts of those who will enter the Church at Easter.  This Sunday, she reminds them (and us) of the profound gift of “living water”. 

The first reading recalls the story of Moses striking the rock in Horeb at God’s command.  Out of the rock pours water to ease the thirst of the Hebrews in the desert.  This is not the first time God has intervened dramatically in the lives of His people.  Three months before he parted the waters of the Red Sea as they escaped from slavery in Egypt.  In the interim, He has turned bitter water clean for them, sent manna to feed them each morning and quail each evening, and now, in response to more grumbling, he once again meets their need by bringing forth water from a rock. 

In the Gospel, too, we have those who are thirsty.  In this story, it is Jesus and the Samaritan woman who meet at Jacob’s well.  Jesus first asks for a drink of water and then offers the woman water that will quench her thirst forever.   Jesus will, in His passion, death and resurrection, make this same living water given to the Samaritan woman available to all of humanity.  This “living water” is, as St. Paul says in the 2nd reading, “the love of God poured into our hearts.”  It is sanctifying grace, it is the very life of God.  The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us.  

If all of this is true, then I think it begs a question.  Why do so many remain thirsty?  Why do we often feel like we are spiritually dehydrated?  

In pondering this, I remember stories of brave seafarers of past centuries who would embark on long and treacherous journeys across the seas and sometimes run out of fresh water to drink.  Surrounded by water on all sides, they were thirsty.  It seems this image is fitting for our current circumstances.  We are, it seems to me, surrounded by “water” on all sides.  In our culture there are an overwhelming number of “wells” from which we could drink; activities which can consume our time, information and “entertainment” at our fingertips, a myriad of problems and a wide-ranging set of proposed solutions being spoken about on a 24-hour news cycle.  We have more possessions to manage than ever before in the history of humanity.  We live in a constant state of noise and often, too, of movement.  All of this stimulus, all of these opportunities to fill our empty cups and yet we often feel empty.  Or perhaps more accurately we often fill our cups from these wells which, like the salt water that surrounded our seafaring ancestors, only leave us more thirsty.

Unlike the seafarers, however, our source of “living water” promises to “become in (us) a spring of water welling up to eternal life” an eternal source of life; one which we will not run out of, despite the nature or length of our life’s journey and its challenges.  

May we seek the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament where he wishes to comfort and encourage us, renew our strength and remind us of his deep love for us. As we continue our Lenten journey, may our prayer, fasting and almsgiving make us aware of the bitter and polluted waters we keep returning to, that we may once again turn to the true living water and allow the Lord to re-hydrate our spirit.

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