WHICH WATER HAS JESUS FOR US?
Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s readings Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42 are centered on Baptism and new life. Living water represents God’s Spirit who comes to us in Baptism, penetrating every aspect of our lives and quenching our spiritual thirst. The Holy Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the Sacraments of God in the Church are the primary sources of the living water of Divine Grace. We are usually assembled every Sunday in the Church to drink this water of eternal life and salvation. Today we live in totaly new way what does it mean Jesus´ saying in Mark´s Gospel: „But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day” (Mark 2,20). Washed in it at Baptism, renewed by its abundance at each Eucharist, today we are invited to drink the living water at least through the hearing of the Word. We are challenged by today’s Gospel in special way to remain thirsty for the living water, which only God can give.
The first reading from Exodus 17:3-7 describes how God provided water to the ungrateful complainers of Israel, thus placing Jesus’ promise within the context of the Exodus account of water coming from the rock at Horeb.
In their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "Why then did you bring us up out of Egypt? To have us die of thirst with our children and our livestock?" So Moses cried out to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me!" The LORD answered Moses: Go on ahead of the people, and take along with you some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the Nile. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink. Moses did this, in the sight of the elders of Israel. The place was named Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD in our midst or not?"
In the second reading from the Letter to the Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 Saint Paul asserts that, as the Savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of the Holy Spirit into our hearts.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. The hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
In the today´s long Gospel according to John 4:5-42, an unclean and outcast Samaritan woman is given an opportunity to receive the living water. Jesus awakened in the woman at the well a thirst for the wholeness and integrity which she had lost, a thirst which he had come to satisfy. This Gospel passage also gives us Jesus’ revelation about himself as the Source of Living Water and teaches us that we need the grace of Jesus Christ for eternal life because he is that life-giving water.
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water. “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
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 who is speaking with you.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.
When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Dear brothers and sisters we need also to allow Jesus free entry into our personal lives. Jesus wishes to come into our “private” life, not to embarrass us, not to judge or condemn us, but to free us, to change us, and to offer us what we really need: the living water of the Holy Spirit. Let us find this living water in the Sacraments, in prayer, and in the Holy Bible, especially during this Lenten season.
We need to be witnesses to Jesus as the Samaritan woman was. Let us have the courage to “be” Jesus for others, especially in those “unexpected” places for unwanted people. Let us also have the courage of our Christian convictions to stand for truth and justice in our day-to-day life.
We need to leave the “husbands” behind during Lent as the Samaritan woman did. Today’s Gospel message challenges us to get rid of our unholy attachments and the evil habits and sinful addictions that keep us enslaved and idolatrous. Lent is our time to learn from our mistakes of over-indulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, or any other addiction that distances us from the Living Water.
Fascinating legends and traditions notwithstanding, the woman of Shechem offers veteran believers and catechumens a living example of the dynamics and ramifications of Christian Baptism including: (1) the overture of God to the sinner 2) the sinner’s growing response in Faith and consequent conversion. (3) the mission of the disciple to proclaim the Good News to others. Venerated as a saint among the Greek and Russian Orthodox and given the name Photeine (Greek) or Svetlana (Russian), which means radiant or shining (from the Greek noun phos - light), the woman at the well has been variously praised by Origen, John Chrysostom, Augustine, and Teresa of Avila as: (1) an “apostle,” (2) one who “left her water pot at the well in order to go off and preach the Gospel,” (3) “the first apostle to the Gentiles who invited her neighbors to ‘Come and see’.” (cf. Jesus´ invitation to the first apostoles: "Come and see” in Joh 1,39). Legend has it that when the woman left Samaria to preach the Good News, she eventually made her way to Carthage in Africa where she was imprisoned for the Faith and died a martyr. Another legend, preserved in Spain, says that Photeine (also Photina) converted and baptized Nero’s daughter and 100 of her servants.