A thread running through all today’s lessons is the affirmation of God’s loving care to those who respond to him. God’s covenant love continues despite all our human attempts to thwart it, domesticate it, attempt to control it. During our Lenten pilgrimage we reflect on our responsibility for being agents of frustration rather than channels of love.
An important symbol of God’s grace, as we shall see from our texts is that of water, with the reminder that water is essential for sustaining human life, and that the real Water of Life is given by Jesus of Nazareth.
This well-known incident in the Gospels comprises three scenes. Jesus’ dialogues with a Samaritan woman. Jesus’ dialogues with the disciples. The Samaritan woman encounters Jesus and confesses that He is the saviour of the world.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her “Give me a drink”
A lonely, isolated woman, shunned by her community, comes to draw water at the hottest time of day. A woman with a broken self-image, who has deep feelings of guilt, of worthlessness – who really feels and lives the rejection of her people – comes to draw water when no-else is around. Normally a communal exercise, a time when stories are told, experiences shared, help sought and given, the drawing of water for this woman has become a lonely experience, an expression of her isolation and rejection. She has had five husbands – the absolute maximum permitted in Samaritan law at that time. Thus the man she is living with now, is not and could not be her husband. She has placed herself outside the norm and customs of the community – and so she lives a lonely existence, shunned and scorned by her community.
Jesus, tired, perhaps frustrated by the constant bickering of the disciples and their inability to understand, is drained, drawn and dry. Out of his need he asks – Give me a drink. The shock for the woman must have been palpable. A Jew asking a Samaritan for a drink from a member of a people regarded as the enemy. A man asking a strange woman to relieve his thirst. A conversation is struck up.
In receiving water from this Samaritan woman, Jesus gives her life – a life of fullness of esteem, of relationship with God. Water gives life…
Jesus came to quench our thirst for presence and acceptance. Our thirst is satisfied when we surrender ourselves to the living waters of God’s word and live with Christ at the very center of our being.p;