HOW THIRSTY ARE WE?
Water is essential to maintain life. Everything that lives needs water. To people living so close to Lake Michigan, water seems like no big deal, but to people living in arid regions of the world, water is a most valuable commodity. Anyone who has traveled to a desert region knows that without water, life quickly ends! To Jews living in an arid region, water held great significance, so much so that water was often compared to the saving power of God.
The prophet Jeremiah labeled God, “The source of living waters.” Isaiah referenced that same connection between the importance of both God and water in the lives of Jews. He told his communities, “Draw water at the fountain of salvation,” and reminded them to “come to the water” and find satisfaction for all their needs. Mother Teresa wrote that she was only a “carrier of God’s love” and was driven by “the love of an infinitely thirsty God.” God’s thirst for us and our thirst for him drives us nearer to him and draws us deeper into his divine embrace. From one prophetic voice we hear: “Not only the thirsty seek water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.”
“Not only the thirsty seek water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.”
When Jesus encountered the woman at the well, there seemed to be nothing unusual about his request for a drink of water, but it was indeed an unusual request considering the person to whom the request was made. It was a Samaritan woman visiting Jacob’s well in the heat of the day that Jesus asked for water. And while his request may have been legitimate, it was more than water that he wanted from her. Within their conversation unfolded all the cultural problems of the time. Samaritans were considered as half-pagan heretics by neighboring Jews who refused to travel through Samaritan territory. Even the woman’s social position within her own community was suspect as she apparently lived on the fringes of acceptable society. Coming for water at a time of day when few would be willing to withstand the noonday sun, has caused many to speculate about her reputation. In addition, women were considered inferior to men, yet she was selected by Jesus to become his disciple.
This unnamed woman is our Lenten teacher and guide. She welcomed Jesus who revealed himself to her and revealed her to herself. For her daring, her humility, and her willingness to be exposed to the truth, she recognized her brokenness and resolved to repent. In “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis states: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that she or he has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus.” That is exactly what happened to the Samaritan woman, as she brought Jesus’ love to her community. We too, by our willingness to be open to God’s love, may find the courage to do the same. Now is our time to reject sin and thirst for the gifts Jesus came to give us. By allowing these gifts to change us from within, we can become authentic witnesses to the presence of his love in our lives and bring his love into the lives of others.
God knows our sin, the evil in our world and our part in it. He invites us to turn away from sin and from all that blocks his love from our lives. Today’s gospel story gives us hope because a woman trusted that Jesus could accept her and allow her to carry his message of love to others. Jesus invites us into that same loving relationship. As we make our way during this Lenten journey, may we come to know what we too thirst for.
~ Deacon Wilson Shierk