Draw from the well of the living water

By Fr. Michael Brennan, O. Praem. | For The Compass | March 11, 2020

“I thirst” (John 19:28). Reflecting on these words of Jesus spoken from the Cross, St. Teresa of Kolkata once wrote, “When you finally open the doors of your heart and you finally come close enough, you will then hear Me say again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: ‘No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your problems and needs, and with all your desire to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and call … Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU’ … Jesus is God, therefore his love and his thirst are infinite. He, the Creator of the universe, asked for the love of his creatures. He has thirst for our love … These words: ‘I THIRST’ … Do they echo in our soul?” St. Teresa wisely connects the thirst of Jesus upon the Cross to his thirst for each of us to be drawn into a loving relationship with him.

On this third Sunday of Lent, we encounter a tired and thirsty Jesus utilizing his physical thirst as the entry point for calling the Samaritan woman into relationship with Him. Due to the history between Jews and Samaritans, the woman suspects that Jesus will follow cultural and religious norms and simply ignore her presence at the well. Startled by Jesus’ request for something to drink, her first response is to highlight their difference, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink” (4:9)? After Jesus responds that He offers the “living water … [of] eternal life,” she addresses him as “Sir” and questions whether he can possibly be greater than their common ancestor Jacob. As their conversation progresses and Jesus reveals knowledge of her personal life, she responds with an increased awareness of the true identity of this tired and thirsty Jew “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet” (4:20). After further discussion with Jesus, she recognizes that she is speaking with the long awaited Messiah. Inspired by this encounter with the Messiah, she leaves behind her empty jug because the living water has quenched her actual thirst. Filled to the brim, she returns home to draw her fellow Samaritans into a life-giving relationship with the source of eternal life.

This story of the Samaritan woman offers us a metaphor for our Lenten journey; each year this season of renewal offers us the opportunity to recognize how Christ thirsts to draw us more deeply into relationship with him. As we pray, fast and give alms, we draw from the well of the living water of eternal life and are sent forth to share the thirst quenching water of Chirst with a tired and thirsty world.

Fr. Brennan, vocation director at St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere, earned Master of Divinity and Theology degrees from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.

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