Third Sunday of Lent: John-4:5-42
In the gospel of today, we heard that Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well. During this encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus showed God’s mercy and kindness towards this sinful woman as Jesus gives her living water! We see how this woman recognized her own sins. When Jesus became personal with this woman and started asking questions about her five husbands, she cleverly tried to change the subject to talk about religion. She did not want Jesus to get into her personal life. But Jesus wanted to free her, to forgive her, to shape her life in a new direction, and to change her old way of sinful living. Jesus wanted to offer this woman living water, which was rebuilding her broken and dead relationship with God.
After their heart-to-heart conversation, Jesus revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, which led her to faith in Jesus. At the end of the story, we see how she rejoiced over her renewed life in Jesus. She became a new person because of her willingness to look back at her past, broken and darkened life in the light of Jesus. The important thing we can learn from this story is that after she came to believe in Jesus, she went back to her village people and shared and witnessed about Jesus, the Messiah, and many came to believe in Jesus. This shows that she understood her new role to witness Jesus and bring people back to faith. This is our challenge to share the gospel message with other people through our own lives and good actions and bring others back to faith life.
Philosopher Kierkegaard once stated that “Life must be lived forward but understood backward.” In other words, our past lives must be guidelines for our future lives. I believe that this is very true during our Lenten Spiritual Journey. Lent is a time of grace and seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness, and we have to encounter God in a most ordinary way, like the woman at the well. This is the time of year when we are challenged to stop and to look back to our past lives and learn lessons for our future journey. For such a process, first, we should allow Jesus to enter into the deepest and cloudiest corners of our personal lives! God is active in our lives when we allow God to enter into our personal and “private” lives. We all have our own “private” lives, which are most often contrary to the will of God. Although we come to the well of God – for God’s grace, our jars of life might be filled with our own personal agendas and self-righteousness.
The other important thing we can reflect on in the gospel parable is that as Jesus meets the woman, Jesus is not afraid to admit, “I’m thirsty.” “Thirst makes friends of us all.” Later, Jesus even proclaims to her, “God is not on the mountaintop—but in our thirst!” Let us ask ourselves – What are we thirsting for? Are we thirsting for Friendship? Acceptance? Community? Forgiveness? Healing? And Human dignity for all? How is our thirst inviting us to open more deeply to God? Jesus heals her wounds with words of acceptance, with respect and kindness—knowing everything about her—and still, Jesus offers her a gift—living water.
We can notice that at the end of the story, she is no longer alone, and she has gone from her loneliness to her community. Jesus broke all the barriers in that Samaritan woman, and Jesus became the living water for her life. After encountering Jesus, she left her water jar because she no longer needs the water jar because Jesus satisfied her deep “thirst.”
Let us be open to Jesus and let us allow Jesus to fill our water jars of life with the “living water” of joy, freedom, dignity, and divine life, so we can experience the God of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, hope, and joy at the well of Jesus! Many times, we come to the well of Jesus, when all other sources of energy and hope are denied us. Our challenge is: “Are we looking for the right source that will satisfy our thirst forever?” Still, God is waiting for us at the well of life with mercy and forgiveness. God wishes to come into our “private” lives not to humiliate us, not to judge or condemn us, but to free us, to change us, and to offer us what we really need, which is the fountain of living water. This fountain of living water is the Holy Spirit!