On this Third Sunday of Lent, we meet the woman at the well. In doing so, perhaps we meet ourselves!! We all thirst for something in our life, something we need, something we desire. Perhaps we want someone to love, someone with whom we can share our life and build a family. Perhaps we want to play professional sports. Maybe we want to be a doctor or an entrepreneur. Perhaps we want to be respected in the eyes of others. Each one of us longs for something: that our spouse would love us differently, that our friends would treat us with more respect, that we could make a lot of money. Our hearts are thirsty. It is the way that we are. It is a part of the human condition. At first glance, this thirst in our heart can seem like a kind of selfishness, simply catering to our own desires. But today’s Gospel presents such thirst in a very different perspective. It tells us that God has placed the thirst in our hearts for a purpose. St. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the Church, said, “Oh God, you have created us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you.” A great spiritual writer of our time, whose books I read and highly recommend, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser has described this thirst as “a holy longing” because if we follow it, it will ultimately lead us to God.
The Samaritan woman in today’s gospel comes to the well because she wants water. She wants water, which she can drink and with which she can clean and cook. But when she comes to the well for that water, she meets Jesus. There she listens to him as he talks about a living water that will lead to salvation. The woman does not come to the well to find Christ’s water, she comes to find the water that is in the well. But her thirst for that water leads her to consider and ultimately to accept the water that Jesus offers. A natural water leads her to an eternal water. A physical thirst leads her to a drink beyond her imagining.
Everything that we thirst for is a limited good. As we confront the limited nature of the things we desire, they push us to seek the unlimited goodness who is God. Money will only keep us happy for so long. Then we will long for something else. Even the closest and most intimate human relationship has its down side. As we face the limits of relationships, we recognize that we want something more. It is gratifying to be successful in our work and in the eyes of other. But once we claim that success, our heart says, “Is that all there is?” The Samaritan woman looks out at us from today’s Gospel and says, “When you find the water you seek, you will want more. God has made us that way. The water you obtain is meant to lead you to the water that only Jesus can give.”
Have a Blessed Lent!