March 7, 2021: The Third Sunday of Lent - Pastor’s Corner
The Gospel we hear this weekend is the story of the woman at the well. Although we have been reading from the Gospel of Mark (“Cycle B”), the woman at the well (a “Cycle A” Gospel) is appropriate for those who are journeying on the RICA process. This year, despite the pandemic challenges, we are delighted to be welcoming more nearly 40 new catechumens and candidates into the Church. For the next three weekends, we will be hearing powerful stories of Jesus’ ministry which are saturated with the dynamics of what it means to believe, e.g., woman at well, healing of blind man, and the raising of Lazarus
Today’s Gospel is all about thirst. The Samaritan woman encounters Jesus at Jacob’s well and He asks her for a drink. Of course, we know how shocking that is: first as a woman and then as a Samaritan. But He does it in order to awaken her own thirst. He says, “if you knew who I was you’d be asking me for a drink and I would give you living water.” And she wants this living water. Jesus leads her from the physical needs for water to consider the spiritual thirst for love.
In this Lenten season, Jesus wants to awaken our thirst for his living water. We have many thirsts. The thirst to be successful; thirst for security; the thirst for significant relationships. And perhaps the most important, the thirst to be loved. But how often have we thirsted in vain? And how much is our own doing. We can easily forget that at the root of all of our thirsts is the thirst for God. We seek to slake our thirst for love selfishly, striving to quench our thirst with things that do not satisfy. We think that we will be satisfied by being in control, by being popular and respected, or by indulging in pleasure and comforts of this life. Our pride; our lack of trust; our lusts, all of these things keep us from thirsting for God’s love.
And yet, nothing less than God’s love can quench our thirst. Jesus reminds us of our most basic thirst: our thirst for God. And to reassure us that there is nothing for which we thirst that His loving presence cannot satisfy.
But as powerful as our thirst for God is, there is an even more powerful thirst at work here: God’s thirst for us. Consider this is not the only time Jesus asks for a drink. Later on in John’s gospel, as He pours out his life for love of us, Jesus says, “I thirst.”
And this is the fulfillment of the scriptures. That God thirsts for us. More than echoing any particular passage from the Old Testament, Jesus’ words are at the heart of the whole of scripture. In other words, if we want to sum up what the Scripture reveal about God it is this: God thirsts. God thirsts for us to be His people. Our God is a thirsty God. He thirsts for our trust, our faith, and our response to his constant presence in our lives.
In other words, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for a drink not only as a reminder of our thirst for God, but the revelation of the inner life of God. As man, Jesus thirsts to awaken and comfort us in our thirst for God, but as God, Jesus thirsts as a way of describing God’s insatiable passion to love us. Even before we thirst for God, God is already thirsting for us.
Jesus’ words are more than a consolation that God thirsts with us, it is a call to a dynamic invitation to share in God’s thirsty love. God says to each one of us: “no matter who you are, what you’ve done, what you’re going to do, I thirst for you. Are you weighed down by guilt of sins and failings? I thirst to forgive you. Are you restless and searching for meaning in life? I thirst to give you my wisdom and direction. Are you struggling with fears and how to provide for future? I thirst to give you peace and hope.
And as Christ, our thirsty God pour out his life for us on the cross, he invites us to drink deeply and be refreshed at the cup of salvation.
~ Fr. Michael