Thursday, March 24, 2011

Give me this water

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Third Sunday in Lent—A

Exodus 17:3-7
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42

“I thirst,” Jesus said from the cross (John 19:28). The Son of God longs for our faith in him, our conversion, our eternal union in the Holy Trinity. And to prove it, as St. Paul says, he died for us while we were still sinners.

For this reason, Jesus says to the Samaritan woman—a foreigner in a hostile region, and a sinner—“Give me a drink.” She has come to the deep, dark well to draw stagnant water because it’s all she knows. Yet, hidden in her heart is a thirst for something more life-giving, and Jesus patiently draws that holy desire out of her. He slowly and lovingly turns her toward conversion by offering her “living water.”

However, the Gospel passage is not about water, but rather life in Spirit and truth that Jesus offers to us all. Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus extends this invitation: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’” (John 7:37-38).

Without water for our bodies, we die. And without the living water of the Spirit, our souls remain submerged in the Samaritan woman’s deep, dark well of lifeless water. However, Jesus does not force our hand. He engages the woman on her terms. He allows her to direct the flow of the conversation.

Gradually, she begins to trust him, and finally says to him, “Give me this water.” The moment for her conversion has arrived, but Jesus does not condemn. Again, he slowly and lovingly states the facts, and then allows her to absorb and respond to them at her own pace.

The Samaritan woman prefigures the Church. Just as Isaac, Jacob, and Moses meet their wives at a well, Christ engages his Bride (the Church, and our individual souls), and offers us his life-giving Spirit.

Just as with the Samaritan woman, Jesus is patient and loving with us. His hope is that finally, like her, we will believe, leave behind our old water jar (way of life), and pick up a new vessel that pours his Spirit into the lives of others.

He alone satisfies our thirst for eternal life. Let us ask him, “Give me this water.”

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