Engaging the Gospel – Third Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday of Lent: Gospel – John 4:5-42

Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well reveals both God’s thirst for us and our thirst for God, as Pope Benedict XVI observed:

If there is a physical thirst for water that is indispensable for life on this earth, there is also a spiritual thirst in man that God alone can satisfy.

…Jesus triggers in the woman to whom He is talking an inner process that kindles within her the desire for something more profound. St Augustine comments: ‘Although Jesus asked for a drink, His real thirst was for this woman’s faith.’

Homily of February 24, 2008

Benedict expounded further in his Angelus on the same day:

The theme of thirst runs throughout John’s Gospel: from the meeting with the Samaritan woman to the great prophecy during the feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:37-38), even to the Cross, when Jesus, before He dies, said to fulfill the Scriptures: ‘I thirst’ (Jn 19:28).

Christ’s thirst is an entranceway to the mystery of God, Who became thirsty to satisfy our thirst, just as He became poor to make us rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).

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.

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…

We too can meet Jesus at the “well” of our prayer, and Benedict encourages us to put ourselves in the place of the Samaritan woman:

It is impossible to give a brief explanation of the wealth of this Gospel passage. One must read and meditate on it personally, identifying oneself with that woman who, one day like so many other days, went to draw water from the well…

Question for reflection: For what do I truly thirst?