In most west African traditions, when a guest comes to your house, the first thing to do is to give him or her water to drink. Then after, the greeting protocol begins. This act has socio-spiritual impacts on society: from a sociological point of view, giving water to a visitor implies an act of welcome and unity. While on the spiritual level, water symbolizes “life” therefore presenting a calabash of water to someone means cherishing and preserving his or her life. In this sense, water is associated with life.
Dear friends in Christ, today is the third Sunday in the Lenten season and the liturgical readings proposed to our meditation are inviting us to reflect on the theme: “Jesus, the giver of the living water”. The first reading and the gospel have pointed out to us the importance of drinking water which is the typology of the thirst for eternal life.
Thus in the first reading taken from the book of Exodus, we are told that the people of God had murmured against Moses their leader requesting for water. The sons of Israel have had a difficult time on their journey toward the promised land. One of these experiences was lack of water for they were passing through the desert land. They were experiencing starvation and they knew very well that their death was near. Instead of relying on God who takes them out of the land of Egypt, they started complaining and murmuring against Moses and God.
If in the first reading, the people of God (the mortal beings) asked for water to drink, in the gospel (the Divine Being) Jesus has requested drinking water from a Samaritan woman a mere creature.
Jesus and his disciples were on their journey proclaiming the Good News as they arrived in the territory of Samaria they decided to rest for a while before continuing their journey. However, Jesus never rested, on the contrary, he initiated a conversation with a Samaritan woman at well. He began this conversation by saying: “Give me a drink” knowing very well the implication of it. Since the fall of Samaria in 722 BC by the Assyrians, the Jewish considered the Samaritans as Gentiles. They have become a traditional enemy of each other based on religious differences. But through his conversation with this woman, Jesus has preached to them all for the woman went to the city saying “Come, see a man who told all that I ever did”. Systematically, Jesus had helped her to request spiritual living water. By the end of the conversation, the woman was the one asking for water “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst nor come here to draw”. According to the word Saint John “And many of the Samaritans that town began to believe in him” [John 4:39b, NAB] which means that Jesus has taken the opportunity to preach while resting. By doing so, Jesus has invited them to accept him as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
In the second reading, Saint Paul focused his teaching on the benefit of justification. According to him, through reason, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. In other words, through Jesus Christ, we have reconciled and are in harmony with God. This is pure grace that God has bestowed on us while we are still incapable spiritually to fight against sin.
Today’s readings invite us to bear in mind three points: patience in requesting things from God, Jesus opening our minds to spiritual realities, and the importance of being in harmony with God.
- Patient in requesting things from God: Dear friends, the God who takes out the sons of Israel from Egypt knows their needs when they are in the wilderness and was ready to provide them everything. But they were in a hurry to murmur and to accuse him. Many times, our reactions are not far from the sons of Israel, we get upset against God because things are not moving the way we want. We actually force God to listen to us while we are not ready to listen to him or to give him attention. Today, we are called upon to be patient in our requests.
- Jesus opens our minds to the spiritual realities: the purpose of initiating the conversation with the Samaritan woman was to open her mind to know the spiritual realities. Thanks be to God this woman was receptive and accepted Jesu’s teaching. Today, we are called upon to follow in the footstep of this Samaritan woman, to request spiritual things rather than material things. Jesus, the giver of living water, the eternal life is ready to bestow on us spiritual blessings, all that we need to do is to accept his offer with great humility.
- The importance of being in harmony with God: dear friends, the only way to reconcile with God is through Jesus Christ for he has died for us so that we may have eternal life. In order to preserve harmony with God, we are called upon to recognize Jesus as the mediator and the life giver of life; through him, we shall have in abundance.
As we are going through this spiritual journey of forty days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, let us hold on to Jesus for he is the giver of the living water, spiritual water which will quench the spiritual thirst in us, amen
Fr. Issere Agre