March 23, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Third Sunday of Lent

John 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.”

Reflection (Sem. Eldrick Peña):

“Whoever drinks of 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.”  These words of our Lord to the Samaritan woman struck me most.  Water they say is the universal solvent, it quenches anyone’s thirst.  We cannot live without water.  Civilizations evolved in places where there is water.  Water signifies life as well as birth.

But the water which Jesus speaks about is beyond the physical water for “it wells up to eternal life.”  While reflecting on the Gospel passage, I suddenly recalled the inspiration that led to the foundation of the Missionaries of Charity by the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  While travelling on a train and while still a Loreto sister, Mother Teresa had this vision of the crucified Christ saying to her “I thirst.”

This is quite a contrast in today’s Gospel because in this vision, it was Jesus who is “thirsty.”  And he was asking Mother Teresa to quench this divine thirst that the Lord in the person of the sick-poor is experiencing.    Therefore, we could become “living waters” to our neighbours by our acts of mercy and compassion.   The Lenten season invites us to perform acts of charity to the least of our brethren with whom we come to encounter Christ himself and quench the “thirst” that he has – for love, for being wanted, for being cared for.  As it is written in the scriptures, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers… you do it to me…”

There are also many people who thirst for the Word of God.  And our baptism in water also initiates us to becoming missionaries of Christ – to bring His message of salvation to all through various forms of Christian witnessing.   In this sense, we become water to quench their thirst for Christ.

Our ultimate end therefore, is to be at the very source of the “living water” which is Christ Himself.   We should always thirst for Christ – always seeking for Him and His will for us.  It is also Christ Himself who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” May our longing for the “living water” bring us to eternal life. AMEN.


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