Be Refreshed In Jesus, the Living Water
Lent-3A, 19 March 2017
Exodus 17:3-7//Romans 5:1-2,5-8//John 4:5-42
By Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Beginning this Sunday until the Fifth Sunday of Lent on April 02, we hear three long, beautiful stories only found in the gospel according to St. John. Remember that the season of Lent is originally the preparation period for those to be baptized on Easter Vigil; hence, the Sunday readings are always about Baptism, particularly the remaining three Sundays that mention the element of water, one of the major symbolisms found in St. John’s gospel account. In this story of Jesus at Jacob’s well conversing with a Samaritan woman found only in St. John’s gospel account, let us focus on its opening scene that is simply lovely and meaningful.
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(Jn.4:5-7)
Water means life. It is the primary element of life anywhere so that when scientists discover signs of water in other planets, first thing they assume is the possibility of life there like here on earth. Earth itself and every living creature especially man is primarily made up of water. Without water, we die. The opening verses of Jesus and the Samaritan woman presents us with a wholistic picture about life, of how divine life merges with human life.
A town called Sychar…Jacob’s well was there…It was about noon. Water is drawn from a well; hence, a well is a source of life, a presence of God. In the Bible, a well symbolizes God’s covenant with man, of how He intervened in human history to redeem man. Through God’s covenant with Noah to Abraham and the Patriarchs, man found meaning and direction in life from being just wanderers in the desert into children of God. Most of all, any well like Jacob’s well in Sychar is a reminder of how God had sustained the chosen people with water, or life, despite their infidelity to His covenant fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Whenever we are in unfriendly places and situations in life, when everything seems so dizzying like when we are under the scorching heat of the sun at noon, keep your eyes opened for surely, there is always Jacob’s well around where we could rest and find consolation in the Lord. Like what we have reflected last week, after every Temptation, there is Transfiguration.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well… A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” This is my favorite part that teems with so much love and presence of Jesus. Imagine the Lord Almighty who had healed many sick people, raised dead into life, fed thousands of people from a few pieces of bread, walked on water and calmed the storm at the sea— now tired from his journey, sat down at the well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink? Is it not so lovely especially for us so tired in this life where people seem to think we are superhumans, asking us, or demanding us with all the things they need without realizing how much troubles we are into, that we deep inside are also aching, that we are not that strong and tough but just trying to be one? What a joy indeed that we are not alone after all! Even our Lord Jesus Christ the Almighty and Holy one gets tired like us. This little detail reminds us to always see among others, especially the poor and the sick, Jesus in their midst, trying to rest in silence from so many trials and sufferings in life. How sad that so many times we regard others like your wife or husband, parents, or workers like machines that never get tired, always demanding so many things from them that they could not even find time to rest. Everyone deserves a break! Next time, have the heart and see Jesus in anyone trying to find rest. Be considerate, give him/her a break for he/she may be Jesus tired from His journey.
Another lovely thing from this scene is when Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. It is very similar to that scene in Galilee when Jesus borrowed the boat of Simon Peter to use for teaching the people. Again, imagine the sheer beauty and privilege of how Jesus, true God and true man, so powerful who could do anything and everything, getting tired, asking water from a Samaritan woman? And the good news is that it happens every day in our very lives! Every one of us is a Samaritan woman, a sinner and yet, being asked by the Holy Lord for water, for help. As we have noted, water is life. In asking the Samaritan woman to give Him a drink, Jesus was asking her to give or surrender her life to Him. Just like when He was on the cross, Jesus cried “I am thirsty.” He was not asking for water to drink but was asking for our love and fidelity to one another, for sincerity and honesty in our mission or profession, mercy and forgiveness for those who have sinned against us. Jesus is thirsting for our life that is willing to share with others His love and mercy. Jesus the all-powerful is asking for our life to be transformed, to be cleansed so that we may also give life- water- to others, like what He had promised the Samaritan woman, to be a wellspring of this living water within. What a joy to be human and an indwelling of the Divine, the Holy Spirit!
In our highly competitive world, some people would find this impossible, even absurd and yes, plainly stupid. How could somebody more powerful bow down to ask anything from somebody below him? In our mind-set, everything is earned that we get only what we deserve. Sorry if you are not that good and talented or well-connected. But listen to what St. Paul tells us in the second reading, “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”(Rom.5:7-8) God loves us not because we deserve it or earned it. We would never deserve it in the first place for we are indeed nothing. But God chose to love us freely simply because He is love! When Jesus asked water from the Samaritan woman, He was fully aware of what kind of a woman she is and yet, He conversed with her, even stooped down to her own level to be with her. When we come to ponder upon it, it seems that Jesus loves us so much all the more when He knows how sinful we are.
This Sunday, Jesus is asking for us to surrender our self to Him so that He may transform us into better persons, liberate us from our so many bondages that prevent us from being our true selves, full of life and joy like what the Samaritan woman had experienced after Jesus told her “everything she had done.” In the first reading, God gave the Israelites water to drink after complaining at Meribah and Massah to quench their thirst. There they dared to ask “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”(Ex.17: 7) because all they wanted were tangible things in life, things that could be seen and felt by the senses like water for their thirst. They did not realize deep within them like the Samaritan woman the more essential things in life, “to worship in truth and in Spirit” that unconsciously, she had left her jar at the well without drawing water nor drinking from there for she had found the “living water”, Jesus Christ. Funny as it may seem, Jesus too did not drink after all from the well when the Samaritan woman, later the townspeople, opened themselves to the Lord’s words and presence. May Jesus refresh us with His living waters this Sunday and throughout this week!
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan