An encounter with the incarnate Truth

Living water to quench our deepest longing

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Occasion: Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

You can find the readings here. The lectio is based on the Gospel.

Reading

Jn 4:5-42

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.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, 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 speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.‘
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
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.”

Standout Words

Give me a drink; the cistern is deep; believe in Him because of His word; He told me everything I have done; food to eat of which you do not know; true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth

Reflection

Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman and surprises her by requesting a drink of water. Jews and Samaritans, while sharing similarities in faith, were separated by the question of where to worship God. During this encounter we see Jesus reveal himself as something more than an ordinary man. Jesus was able to tell the Samaritan woman her sins, which immediately got her attention and caused her to identify Him as a prophet. He goes on to tell her about water that only He can give, water that will spring up into eternal life. The Samaritan woman is at first unsure of the meaning and responds by telling him that the cistern is deep and he seemed to have no bucket with which to fetch this miraculous water. When the disciples returned with food they urged Jesus to eat. He gave them a response that he had food of which they were unaware. The Samaritan woman told the town about Jesus and he was invited to stay for a few days. During this time, he won many hearts because of his word.

When we unpack this Gospel message we see some common themes. First, we see that Jesus continues to push the envelope when it comes to those that he preaches to. He seeks out the marginalized, the sinners, and those that hold different beliefs. He is disarming at first, but quickly challenges the way people think. There was nothing comforting about Jesus preaching. He tells the truth because HE is the truth. His Word is the Word of God because HE is the Word of God. In this specific discourse, Jesus talks about water that only he can give and which will spring up into eternal life. He tells his disciples about food that he has that they do not know about. This food and drink is a pre-figurement of the Eucharist. Jesus is beginning to reveal the new covenant which will replace the old and make questions such as what mountain to worship God on irrelevant.

Jesus doesn’t stop here. He begins to reveal the character of the triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He tells the Samarian woman that soon people will worship the Father in Spirit (the Holy Spirit) and Truth (the Incarnate Word; Jesus).

We are blessed with an understanding of this divine revelation that was given to us in the fullness of time. How must have the Samaritan woman and the disciples felt about Jesus’ words?  Jesus brought many people to himself during his ministry. It is through blind faith and the grace of God that people received his teaching although they lacked the clarity that we benefit from today. We have the gift of Christ’s church. The Gospels, writings of the Fathers, and the Magisterium. Most importantly we have the Sacraments! May we ask God for an abundance of faith to follow Christ even when we aren’t clear about what he is asking of us. I believe, Lord, heal my unbelief.

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