Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst
“Lord ... give me this water, that I may not thirst ” (Jn 4,15 ; cf. Gospel Acclamation). The request of the Samaritan woman marks a crucial turning-point in her long and intense conversation with Jesus that takes place at Jacob’s well, near the city of Sychar. St John recounts it in today’s Gospel.
Christ asks the woman “Give me a drink” (v. 7). His material thirst symbolizes a far deeper reality: it expresses his ardent desire that his dialogue partner and her fellow-citizens will open themselves to faith. The Samaritan woman, when she asks Christ for water, is basically revealing the need for salvation present in every heart. And the Lord is revealed as the one who offers the living water of the Spirit, that satisfies forever the infinite thirst of every human being.
The liturgy for this Third Sunday of Lent presents a splendid commentary on the Johannine episode when it says in the preface that Jesus “so deeply thirsted” for the salvation of the Samaritan woman that “he set on fire in her the flame of God’s love.”
The episode of the Samaritan woman charts the journey of faith that we are all called to pursue. Even today Jesus continues “to thirst”, namely, to desire humanity’s faith and love. From our personal encounter with him, if we recognize and receive him as the Messiah, come our attachment to his message of salvation and the desire to spread it in the world.
This is what happens in the rest of the Gospel passage. The bond with Jesus totally transforms the life of the woman who hurries without delay to proclaim the good news to the people in the nearby village: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (Jn 4,29).
Revelation received with faith asks to become a word proclaimed to others, witnessed in the concrete choices of life. This is the mission of believers, coming from and growing in their personal meeting with the Lord…
“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5,5).
The words of the Apostle Paul in the second reading refer to the gift of the Spirit, symbolized by the living water, that Jesus promises to the Samaritan woman. The Spirit is the “pledge” of the definitive salvation that God has promised to us. Man cannot live without hope. Many hopes go down when they crash against the rocks of life. However Christian hope “does not disappoint” because it is based on the solid foundation of faith in the love of God revealed in Christ.
To Mary, Mother of hope, I entrust your… Lenten journey towards Easter. May Mary, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us all to be faithful disciples of the one who makes well up in our hearts the water for eternal life (cf. Jn 4,14).
Excerpted form the HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II, Third Sunday of Lent, 3 March 2002.
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