Readings: Exdous 17: 3 – 7. Romans 5: 1-2, 5 – 8. Gospel John: 4: 5 – 42
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Exodus tells us that God presented the people of Israel
with living water from the rock. It consisted of one of the three events found in the Old Testament
that speak of people thirsting for water. Already they were witnesses to the first event in Mirah
where Moses turned bitter water into sweet water. The second event, the one mentioned today,
took place at Rephidim. Being without water, Moses was commanded by God to take the elders
with him and to strike the rock with the staff. Then, miraculously, water came out of the rock. The
third event took place at Kadesh where once more Moses was commanded by God to assemble the
congregation and to command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Here once again people
exhibit spiritual weakness and grumble against God and Moses. God displays great patience both
with Moses and his people. As biblical history tells us, Moses did not trust in the Lord. Because he
struck the rock twice, he was punished and not allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Today’s Second Reading tells us of God’s love poured into our hearts by the power of the Holy
Spirit that has been given to us through Christ. The Divine love of God assures salvation to those
who are justified. Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus. Through
our peace with God, our reconciliation replaces our alienation that was caused by the disobedience
of Adam. Paul explains that Christ died at the right time for the ungodly as they were weak and
were unjustified. All human persons were sinners, incapable of doing anything that could make
them right before God. By the grace of God, all received the free gifts of faith, hope and charity
that are instrumental in leading them towards salvation through Jesus Christ. He tells them that
faith and hope enable to be open to the love of God, the Father pours into our hearts by the Holy
The thirsting soul: Our need to drink regularly is obvious; without water we would quickly die. Not
so easily recognized is the soul’s thirst for meaning, for vision and purpose in life. We can be fully
preoccupied with the surface of things, and quite neglect our spirit’s obscure longing for eternal
life. Like the Israelites, we worry constantly about physical needs, but are often unmindful of God
who supplies them. Today, Jesus offers us the refreshing water of eternal life, a power of faith and
union-with-God which is our deepest need, and can satisfy the thirst of our soul. How the desert
blossoms, when water is brought to it. The same miracle of growth can take place in the parched
soul, if God lets his Spirit flow over me. All the ravages of doubt, fear and sin will yield to the new
life of grace.
A sacramental washing: Already in baptism, the sacramental washing with water by the Christian
Church was a first contact with the grace of Christ. I was given a good start, planted well in the
garden of God, with room to put down roots, and draw vital nourishment from the living spring of
the Saviour. Yet, I need continuing help, to keep my spirit alive and pleasing to God as life goes
on. Like the desert-wandering Jews, I suffer from thirst; I grow weary in confronting problems and
temptations. Jesus guarantees me the “living water” I need. His own Spirit is always at hand, as a
force of encouragement and fidelity.
“To dwell in the house of the Lord”: Our deep desire remains, something not confined to
Christians but shared by the mystic tradition in other religions: namely, the yearning to come into
the presence of God, and be welcomed by God. All of us are called by him to drink of that
“fountain of water, springing up to everlasting life.” In times of widespread religious scepticism,
the hope of heaven as eternal life after death is often cast in doubt as wishful thinking. But we
cling to this hope, relying on the word of Jesus. For Paul and the early Christians, the hope of
eternal life breathed joy into all their efforts and sacrifices. Fidelity until death seemed well
worthwhile, “for the weight of glory that will be revealed in us.” Our part to play is turning aside
from sin, and trying to live by the gospel. God can be absolutely relied on to fulfill his promise,
and will in time satisfy the deep thirst of our spirit.
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to
you, ‘give me a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.
Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall
give will never thirst.” How little aware are we that we are by the side of well – spring of water!
Jesus is the giver of water; he is the fountain, the rock from which will gush forth the living water.
He first waits for us as we waited for the Samaritan woman. He is thirsty. Our thirst is His thirst.
He is thirsty to offer us his forgiveness, his love, his reconciliation, his mercy, his peace. This is
what we long and thirst for. He is the source of all this. But do we go to him? He too is thirsty for
our love so that he can love us even more. He is thirsty to love and to be loved. And in this
process we shall be satisfied. Unfortunately, we are not aware of our real thirst. The thirst of
human beings consists of longing for alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, gambling, excessive use of
internet, cell phone, craze for money, power, positions, authority, wealth, comforts, property,
market shares; latest gadgets and motor vehicles, excessive consumption of food, especially
unhealthy food…. Coming to the source of the living water the Samaritan woman was converted;
her past life did not hinder her from coming closer to God; her dignity was restored; she came in
touch with the fountain, the rock from which flows streams of living water; if we suffer from thirst
for the living water, it is always available from Jesus, just for our asking.
Jesus uses the water as a metaphor to teach this woman the lesson of grace and forgiveness. He
speaks about the living water, which gives eternal life, divine grace, which is God’s life within the
soul. The woman craves for this type of water, because she wishes to have eternal life although she
misunderstood this at first. Jesus now has a lengthy but candid dialogue with her. He makes her
understand that she needs to confess her sins and change her life before she can obtain this life-
giving water, grace. Jesus then reveals to her that he is the Messiah. Once she is given a share in
the mystery, the Samaritan woman’s spirit is enlightened, accelerated, and illuminated by Jesus.
She now realizes what it means to take freely of the water of life, which is the spiritual refreshment
that comes into her soul after her encounter and confession with Jesus. Not only was she impressed
that Jesus knew all her sins, but she was also given the opportunity to have those sins forgiven. She
believes he is truly the Messiah, the Anointed One. She repents of her past misdeeds and goes back
to tell her family, friends, and tells them about Jesus.
When we reflect on this episode we see how this story begins with Jesus showing himself as a
person in need: tired, hungry and thirsty. We are surprised to see how genuinely human he was
and asks help from a person he was supposed to avoid, namely a strange woman and also a
Samaritan. She is also surprised at his approach but her surprise allows Jesus to turn the tables and
offer her living water of grace. But the water that Jesus will give is different unlike the water from
the well. He tells her that those who drink this water will never be thirsty again as it gives eternal
life. The woman thinks in human terms and hopes she will never have to trudge to the well again.
Jesus now invites the woman to do something more, to come to receive the water with her
husband. Jesus’ mission to these people begins with reaching out to a family. But she confesses
that she has no husband. Jesus reveals her true situation and now on she is the messenger.
The Gospel Reading of today concludes by telling us that the people came from the city to hear
Jesus in large numbers. They came to believe in Jesus because of the woman’s witnessing and the
words he said to her. Then they asked him to stay with them and teach them. Perhaps he would
otherwise have continued on his journey. Jesus often needs to be invited to stay as he did on the
road to Emmaus. However at the end, having been convinced of the person of Jesus they tell the
woman that they believed in Jesus not because of what she said but because they themselves heard
him and that they realized he is truly the Saviour of the world. Jesus was clear with the woman at
the well about what was right and wrong in her moral life. That gift of the truth helped to set her
free and helped her to begin experiencing the freedom of life in the Spirit. He had already told her
that the well of Jacob, a holy place will become irrelevant. So will the Temple of Jerusalem.
The richness of the story is found in the dialogue between Jesus and the woman. It is a story about
revelation, communication and relationship. It is also a story about God, Jesus and boundaries.
Jesus shows himself as the living water to be shared by all. This Story introduces many crucial
themes that pan out in the rest of the Gospel. The first and most important fact is that Jesus has
begun His Ministry, and will impart His Word to people He meets. Another important issue raised
in this story is the fact that Jesus talks to any person in society, ordinary or elite. The Gospel says
that Jesus confronts the Samaritan woman at noon, which is the hottest part of the day, and an
unlikely the time to draw water from a well. It is hinted at that she may be someone who is not
liked in her community.
Today, on the third Sunday of Lent, we are invited to come to Jesus the source of living water, we
are invited to dig a hole in our garden by fasting, penance, almsgiving, prayer and good works. Let
us listen to him by reading and mediating the Word of God in the Scriptures; let us intensify our
prayer. Let us identify our thirst for God; let us receive him in the Holy Eucharist. We need not
run with a pot to a far off well to fetch water to quench our thirst. Let us share ourselves and our
goods with less fortunate. Jesus tells us too today, “I shall give you a spring of living water,
welling up to eternal life. Come and drink, for, I am the Source of life.” Let us say to Jesus
continually, “Give us this water that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw”. And…. do not
forget the words of ant-bear “Dig as deep as your heart and as wide as your thirst.” How deep is
my yearning for God and how wide my thirst for God?
Am I aware of my thirst for God’s love, forgiveness and mercy? Am I aware of how close I am to
the Source that quenches this thirst? Do I take time to descend into my interiority in order to get in
touch with the Source of the Living Water? How deep is my yearning for God and how wide my
thirst for God? Let me take time to savor the words of that ant-bear: Dig as deep as your heart and
as wide as your thirst.”