Sunday, April 10, 2011
If you’ve followed me for very long, you know my fascination with water. The story of the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus (John 4:5-42) came up a couple weeks ago and I, of course, remained focused on the words, “living water.”
I spent time reading different commentaries on this Gospel moment. I found a source that included something Pope Benedict the XVI said in 2008:
…recalling the great teaching of Saint Augustine, with regard to Christ's request to the woman, “give me something to drink”, [St. Augustine] said: “Yes, God thirsts for our faith and our love. As a good and merciful father, he wants our total, possible good, and this good is he himself.”
It seems odd that God would want our love, doesn’t it? He doesn’t need it, but He desires that each and every one of us—individually—be with Him forever. How often do we stop to think about that incredible gift and that our fate is completely in our hands?
I went on to read the symbolism of the Samaritan woman:
“The Samaritan woman, on the other hand, represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what he seeks. She had "five husbands" and now she lives with another man; her going to and from the well to draw water expresses a repetitive and resigned life. However, everything changes for her that day, thanks to the conversation with the Lord Jesus……” (Benedict XVI, Angelus 24 February 2008).
Sometimes we get frustrated making the same mistakes over and over. How often do we feel like the Samaritan woman?
The gospel writer John states that the woman goes at noon, during the hottest part of the day. Most times during this era, water was drawn in the cool of the morning but this Samaritan does not. I have heard it explained that because she felt different or ostracized (due to her living conditions) she avoided going with the rest of the women to draw water. How often do we go out of our way to avoid doing something uncomfortable thinking it will save us from feeling excluded?
But here, the symbolism is clear. Though we may try to elude that uneasy situation, God meets us there. It is up to us to recognize and accept His presence and engage Him in conversation.
I found a site where the author presents the importance of living water in a unique way:
“On our path of conversion, what a great grace it is to find the Lord Jesus waiting patiently for us beside our senseless wells. When, like the Samaritan woman, we are tired of the things of this world, of almost empty wells, then the Divine Master is especially close to us. He asks us to give him something to drink, he asks us to trust Him to satiate our heart and if we trust in Him we discover the joy of finding the true well, the source of crystal clear water.”
The Creator of all asks us to trust Him to satiate our heart. Does it really take that much effort to trust Him? Maybe we need to ask ourselves why and what is keeping us from taking that plunge.
The following is an excerpt from a poem entitled "I Thirst" by Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
"Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear Me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. Come to Me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock ... Open to-Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU…”
Does it get any better than that?