Third Sunday of Lent
Reading 1 EX 17:3-7
Reading 2 ROM 5:1-2, 5-8
Gospel JN 4:5-42
"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."
"Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink" wrote the poet Samuel Coleridge in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, whose ship is now afloat in a windless sea and they are dying of thirst despite the abundance of water surrounding them.
The image of water is powerfully demonstrated in our Scriptures today in its association with thirst.
In the 1st reading from the book of Exodus as they journey through the reset wilderness:
"In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?"
Their thirst was a real need but they failed to trust in the providence of God, the very God who led them out of Egypt through the waters of the Sea of Reeds. How quickly they forget, how quickly we forget! Even with God we adopt a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' attitude. We read that God brought water from the rock. More than enough to satisfy their needs as well as their children's and their livestock's. God indeed fulfilled his promise to bring them into the promised land.
In the Gospel it is Jesus who thirsts and initially asks the Samaritan women for a drink. It was noon, and It was against all societal protocols to speak directly to a woman and worse a Samaritan at that. Yet after the opening discourse it is the woman who asks for the living water that Jesus speaks of. What is it that she thirsts for: love, acceptance, forgiveness, redemption? What are we thirsting for? Nothing we try seems to satisfy, we are always left wanting in our pursuit of happiness in love, power, riches or fame.
But like the Samaritan woman we will find living water only in Jesus. Notice how she immediately goes to give witness and as a result how many came to believe in Him.
Come satisfy your thirst once and for all in the living water that Jesus offers: He is both our rock and our wellspring.
In the poem by Coleridge, the ancient mariner, driven by guilt, and as penance for shooting the albatross, is forced to wander the earth, telling his story over and over, in order to teach this lesson to those he meets:
"He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
The Season of Lent is a special time for us to slow down, look inward and make the necessary changes to truly become an Easter people.