Once there was a woman who had to make a daily trip of a mile to draw water from a public well. Over the years she grew weary of the journey. No matter how much water she brought home, she always ended with an empty container. Then one day she was doing some work in her own garden when in a remote corner she came across a large flagstone lying on the ground. The flagstone was completely covered with moss. Her curiosity flared up. She cleared away the moss and then removed the flagstone to discover a lovely well. She was thrilled. Never again would she have to make the tiresome journey to the public well. She now had an unfailing source of water of her own. (Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgy)
In this Third Sunday of Lent, we are called to focus on the life-giving water that flows from Jesus. The long gospel episode of John, the Samaritan woman’s need for material water gives Jesus the opportunity to reveal himself as the source of the “living water” – God’s grace – which alone can satisfy our thirsty souls and make our lives bloom with fruits of holiness.
In this encounter, Jesus made her aware of her own emptiness, but did not leave it at that. He showed her how to begin to fill this emptiness, not from without, but from within. Oh, that we might find the inner well, the well that lies hidden under the moss of our hearts.
We, too, are made aware of our own emptiness, but Christ did not leave us empty. Instead, he showed us how to fill our emptiness with His constant presence within us. But what do we do with Jesus Christ, the source of “living water” who is within us?
When the Samaritan woman has come to realize Jesus as the source of living water, the following conversation followed:
"I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed, the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
This is a beautiful point for reflection as we continue to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when Masses are suspended to minimize transmission of the virus. Do we come to church every single Sunday like the Samaritan woman who draws water from the Jacob’s well and get tired? Or as baptized, Jesus Christ, the source of “living water” is now within us - available everywhere, so that, as Jesus pointed to the Samaritan woman, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”
As baptized, Christ is the core in our life, and we built around our way of living in Him. Let me share the following story:
A very devout and good parish priest had served for many years in a big-town parish and decided to shift gears by moving to the parish of a small rural congregation. On his first day he was invited to a meal at the house of one of his parishioners. Talking about that meal he says: "All through that sumptuous meal, there was something bothering me. All during the dinner I could hear the sound of running water, and it really bothered me. Back in the city that sound was bad news. Someone had left a tap running or there was a leak in the plumbing, and the ceiling was about to cave in. For two hours I listened and heard little else but the sound of running water. Finally, I could no longer contain my inner frustration, so I mentioned it, and asked about it. With a smile, my host explained the situation to me. It seemed that forty years before, when the people had built the farmhouse, they discovered a spring of water right in the middle of the property. They built a spring room around it and then planned and built the rest of the house around that inner spring room. For forty years, the people who lived in that house had come to be conscious of that spring of water right at the very core of their home, and its significance for them grew over the years. I thought to myself "That is what Jesus is constantly trying to tell us: that it is possible to build the rooms of our lives around the life-giving spirit." (Unknown)