Thirst and our real needs

 “Christ asks for water and promises water.
He is in need and wants to receive;
he is rich and wants to slake the thirst of others.”
St. Augustine, Commentary on John

In today’s Gospel, John 4: 5-42, we find Jesus in need. He’s tired and thirsty, seated at Jacob’s well, in the heat of the noonday sun.

Icon, Vatican Museum

Icon, Vatican Museum

A woman, triply marginalized, approaches. But she has a water jar – and the capacity to help Jesus satisfy his physical thirst.

She is a woman and a Jewish teacher wouldn’t be seen speaking publicly with a woman who is not family.

She is also a Samaritan – a “heretic” according to the Jews. As she says, “Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.”

She is also probably an outcast in her village. She doesn’t come for water when the other women do, in the cool of the morning. She arrives in the noonday heat, perhaps to avoid the looks or the gossip of the other women, who perhaps fear she’ll take their husbands. “After all, she has had five men!”

But she asks the woman for help: “Will you give me a drink?”

She objects, emphasizing the gap between them.

But Jesus sees her thirst, her desire for something different, and he offers her living water.

Perhaps tired of coming every day at noon for water she asks Jesus for this living water.

But Jesus asks her to call her husband and reveals that in her thirst, her desire for life, she has had five men.

Unsatisfied, she has sought to quench her thirst for life in five different men and, in the words of U-2, she still hadn’t found what she was looking for.

Jesus has awakened that desire in her. He has called her to see the deepest desires of her heart. And he reveals himself to her as the long-awaited Messiah.

Jesus asks us for a drink, to share what we have with him. And he wants to awaken in us the deepest desires and thirsts of our heart.

He sees her as a person who can do something with him. (In fact, she ends up evangelizing her town.)

We have something that Jesus can use. He asks our help – and in the process, he helps us discover our real need and find it in letting ourselves be loved by Him.



One response to “Thirst and our real needs

  1. Thank you, John. This is a lovely new look at the Samaritan woman that Jesus encounters at the well. I’ve read many interpretations when I was a catechist in our parish Lenten RCIA program. Yours, today, adds new elements and I have learned from them.

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