Thirst and hunger for God, justice and love
Meeting his thirst and hunger, Jesus gives us a model to follow, so that we may truly have our fill of water and food.
Like us humans, Jesus gets tired and experiences thirst and hunger. So, he sits down there at Jacob’s well in Sychar during the hottest part of the day. He awaits the return of those buying food. And when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water, the Jew does not hesitate to ask for a drink.
The request surprises the Samaritan. That is because she looks at Jesus with the bad blood between Jews and Samaritans in mind. She cannot escape the usual point of view.
Jesus, in contrast, breaks the mold. He brings in something new, setting aside, so to speak, “the complacent attitude that says: ‘We have always done it this way’” (EG 33).
The thirsty reveals he is the giver of living water. He then gets her to recognize her own thirst. The now thirsty woman admits also that water from the well is not enough to quench thirst. Accordingly, the would-be giver turns into a requester. She asks, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty again ….”
And Jesus uses the request as an opportunity to show, using an example, the indispensability of living and crystal-clear water. Human thirst will remain unquenchable unless we forego drinking water from Jacob’s well. Jacob and his children were not the only ones who drank from the well. Their flocks did, too. Would the stagnant water from the well not be dirty? The Samaritan woman, drinking dirty water, goes dissatisfied from one husband to another.
But the Samaritan woman not only gets to face her own unquenchable thirst. She manages to see, moreover, that she is in the presence of a prophet. And she expects him to make a clear utterance. Does true worship belong to the Samaritans or to the Jews?
So, Jesus makes it clear that the place of worship will no longer matter very much. That is because the hour has come “when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth.” This is the worship of those imitating Jesus. In them, the water Jesus gives becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Our Teacher meets his thirst by giving drink to the thirsty. He assures them also that God is with them. That is because, ultimately, all human thirst points to thirst for God and for love. And there is no love that does not come with justice (SV.EN II:68).
And Jesus’ food is to do the will of God and to finish his mission. And the Missionary finishes it as, thirsting, he hands over the spirit for sinners.
My soul does thirst for you, the God of my life.
19 March 2017
3rd Sunday of Lent (A)
Ex 17, 3-7; Rom 5, 1-2. 5-8; Jn 4, 5-42