Michael M. Burke, O. P., D. Min.
Jesus offers living water to quench our deepest thirst.
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Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2006, A Cycle, Our Lady of the Rosary, Louisburg, NC, 10 AM Mass

Core Thought:  Jesus offers to each of us living water to quench our deepest thirst.


          They say that at the first sign of feeling parched or a need for a drink that we are already getting dehydrated.

Sometimes we can get so busy that we are not even aware that we’ve begun to feel thirsty and that our mouths are feeling dry.  We all know that we are supposed to drink eight glasses of water each day, but often that takes a lot of intention and it’s easy to neglect that.  Usually, we take some quick drinks and get through the day, because we are so busy. 

          When any years ago, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well, he was tired and thirsty from his journey.  He saw a woman with a bucket and he didn’t have one.  We know that Jews didn’t use the same eating utensils as the Samaritans who were considered inferior and contaminated to the Jewish people.  Today they would be any group of people different from ourselves that we normally wouldn’t mix with.  But Jesus was thirsty and it is significant that at this moment he broke through several barriers, race, gender and status.  He was not only talking to a Samaritan, but a woman and in public, another thing a Jewish man would not do.

          The effect it had on the woman was significant.  She knew the barriers and was surprised that this stranger would ask her for a drink.  Incidentally, she was at the well at noon by herself because this was a safe time for her to draw water when the other women would not be there.  They usually came in the morning.   From the story we gather that her life would have been considered offensive to the rest of the women.  When Jesus asks her for a drink all these details add to the surprise and the impact of Jesus’ request.  GOD IS IN THE DETAILS!

          As we follow the story we see the woman awakened to a new kind of water, ‘living water,’ that had never entered her mind.  It had a lot to do with this strange man who begins to awaken within her a thirst for this living water.  At one point she says ‘Give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’  She doesn’t realize what she is asking for, but she has enough trust and curiosity and interest in this living water that she asks for it.

          What a wonderful moment this is in the story.  It really is the turning point.  She has opened the door to Jesus and the living water he has to give her.

          Then he says, go call your husband.   As this part of her life is shared with this stranger she sees he is also a prophet.  He has now gotten very personal, but hasn’t rejected her.  He still is offering her the living water, but wants to connect this living water with the reality of her life.  All of this is not only surprising, but unsettling for her.  She tries to ‘talk religion’ for a while and discusses where to worship.  Jesus responds that God is Spirit and wants worshippers to worship in spirit and truth.  Certainly as he has drawn the truth out of her and offered her the living water he is showing her that the living water wells up to eternal life and must be from God. 

          For us we know that what Jesus is talking about is that Life of God which is like a spring inside of us.  It is the Spirit of God that is the living water that satisfies our deepest thirst.  It is beyond what ordinary water can do for us for it quenches the thirst of the soul.  It is God’s life offered to us, within us and satisfies the deepest longings of our heart. 

          We are like the woman most of the time.  We are concerned about our daily needs.  We are busy, involved, often unaware of our spiritual life as we go about our jobs, the demands of life and our various interests.  We don’t even know that we are thirsty for the Spirit.  We either are like people who don’t realize they are thirsty or don’t know they have a capacity for something other than ordinary water. 

          Living water and the gift of God and a living water that is a spring welling up within us to eternal life is perhaps foreign to us.

          I recall when I was young and went to church.  I remember lots of announcements, appeals for money and bake sales to raise money.  Then the priest would give an inspirational talk and often it would be to pray more.  I don’t recall hearing about ‘living water,’ and that God was Spirit and wanted worshippers in Spirit and truth. 

          I think it was later when I began to read the Scriptures and we began to talk of spiritual renewal in our church that this story began to become very significant.  It is talking about our very relationship with God.  That God comes to each of us with all of our sense of unworthiness as the Samaritan woman felt and offers us the real drink of life which is God’s own Spirit!  Once we begin to realize this gift it changes everything and we realize we were thirsty for it before we even knew it.  It offers to us the deepest awareness of what our hearts are made for.  We are made to know this Spirit, to live in it and have it fill us so that inside we are feeling satisfied and aware of this life which gives meaning to the rest of our life.

          What an appropriate story for the catechumens and all of us.  The catechumens, now, ‘elect,’ have become aware that they want more out of life and they are finding it here in the Catholic way with the Eucharist, the other sacraments and the life of God which is mediated to us through the Sacraments, the Word and the Community.  Every time we celebrate the Eucharist which includes hearing the Word, we also break the Bread which releases the Life Giving Spirit of Jesus into our hearts and community.  Every time we gather to celebrate we are met by our God who comes to us with the power to awaken within us a deeper thirst for God’s Spirit.  At the same time that God awakens this thirst he satisfies it.  We want more of the Spirit and we leave feeling connected to God and satisfied deep within our spirits and hearts.

          Each one of us should feel like the woman.  You mean you offered to me a gift I don’t deserve.  You asked me first for a drink and showed you needed me.  It is God saying, ‘ I thirst for you!’  You also want me to bring my entire life to you with all its relationships, some of them needing some healing, and all my concerns.  You want to show me that without your Spirit I will always have a thirst that can’t be satisfied.  When I open my hear to you and the water you give then I will feel that my heart is satisfied.

          We are on our Lenten journey and some of us may feel tired like Jesus, dissatisfied like the Israelites wandering in the desert feeling abandoned.  There are many reasons why we need to be acknowledged and loved.

What happens to the woman is meant to happen to each one of us.  God comes to us where we are, meets us at our level and awakens within us a thirst for a drink that we realize satisfies the soul and spirit within us.  We are met by someone who awakens within us a thirst for life giving water.  This drink is the best drink of all and God gives this drink of the Spirit to each of us who asks for it. 

          As we meet Jesus today in His Word and in the Eucharist he offers to each of us this life giving water of His life and His Spirit.  There is no more satisfying drink for our life.  It gives us our deepest meaning and satisfaction.  This is the heart of our faith and our religion.  If we finally realize this is the essence of our faith and our life then we will have found the real meaning of our life and why we find God in Jesus.  It is Jesus who continues to offer us this drink and because of his death and resurrection now pours out this Spirit into our hearts.

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