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Scripture Reflections - March 19
Third Sunday of Lent


READINGS

Exodus 17:3-7
Romans 5: 1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

“I thirst” was the anguished cry of Jesus on the Cross.  As he died for love of all humankind, so His pain was then and still is intense from the rejection of his love.

In every room of the many convents of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, the words “I thirst” are written on one wall. 

Their ministry is based on that truth.

In today’s Gospel,  “I thirst” is the theme.  Jesus breaks the law to speak to a Samaritan woman who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water.  She was a passionate woman who had tried every kind of pleasure, but none had satisfied.

What a surprise, when Jesus’, tired, hungry, and thirsty, asks her for a drink of water.  

As He talks, He ignores her hostility, aware that, in this unexpected encounter, the Father has provided him with an opportunity for piercing the heart of this sinful woman with His love. 

Jesus suggests that he can give her living water that is far superior to anything she had ever   tasted.
Certainly her five husbands (plus her newest lover) haven’t brought her what she is really looking for.  We know that she had tried cheap love, and we presume she was no stranger to intoxication, power, and money! 

This isn’t a gentle lady who comes to draw water from the well, but a toughened cynic.  No wonder she is rude to this travel-dusty Jew, whom she is sure will avoid her with downcast eyes.  Jews despised Samaritans who worshipped God on the wrong mountain.  But Jesus doesn’t follow the accepted prejudice!

Jesus forgets his own needs, and offers this woman living water, spiritual grace.  Incredible! 

Finding her heart curious and open to this miraculous water,  he proceeds to raise her vision. He asks her go back and bring her husband to the well with her. 

Of course, this is the turning point of the story.  When he confronts her with the truth, she could have flounced off in righteous indignation and denial - but she doesn’t.  In humility, she accepts the reality of her sordid life.  Because of her humility,  Jesus floods her soul with grace.   Dropping her bucket, she runs back to spread the good news.  “I’ve found the Messiah”.  And she had!

Lent is a time for us to let Jesus satisfy our thirst.  Like that woman, we too have tried the wrong kinds of water to quench our thirst for happiness, satisfaction, and peace of mind without really finding it. 

Now is the time for us to find real joy and satisfaction in letting the Lord fill us with the grace of the season. 
Like her, we will find that our joy is greatest when we share that gift with others-- joining in a study or prayer group, visiting a nursing home, being patient with our family members, and really listening to them, praying from the heart in a quiet place, reflecting on the Word privately or at daily Mass, and letting the Eucharist change us into the Body of Christ.

The Samaritan woman never did give Jesus a drink of water as he had requested.  Do we stop to realize that Jesus’ thirst for our love is even greater than our thirst for His love?    Is it only saints who understand that. 
May that truth help us as well to pour ourselves out in loving praise and service up to our last breath!

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