3rd Sunday in the Lent – 23/24.02.2008
THE THEME of today's readings centres around water. The links with Baptism are obvious. Water is the source of life but also of destruction.
So we have the story of the Flood, which brought salvation to Noah and his family but death to a sinful world; the crossing of the Red Sea, which meant life and liberty to the Israelites but death to the army of the Pharaoh; and the water from the rock for the Israelites in the dryness of the desert. We will hear more about these at the Easter Vigil during the blessing of the baptismal water.
The Gospel which we have just heard is about the Woman at the Well and it also centres around the theme of water and life.
She is very surprised at his approach but her surprise allows Jesus to turn the tables and offer her "living water". She, understanding him literally, asks how he can give it as he has no bucket. But the water that Jesus will give is different. Those who drink it will never be thirsty again and it gives eternal life. Again, literally, the woman wants this water that lasts forever. Then she will never have to trudge to the well again.
What is this water that Jesus speaks about? It is God's Spirit which comes to us in Baptism. Baptism is not just a ritual producing magic effects. It is the outward, symbolic sign of a deep reality, the coming of God as a force penetrating every aspect of a person's life.
And this happens through our exposure to Jesus and to the Gospel vision of life and our becoming totally converted to that vision. This can only happen through the agency of a Christian community into which we are called to enter. As the Second Reading says today, "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit". It is not just a question of a ritual washing or immersing and saying magic words but of a real drinking in of that Spirit. The spirit quenches our thirst, not by removing our desire for God's presence but by continually satisfying it.
The Roman Triptych: Meditations of Pope John Paul II
2. The source
The undulating wood slopes down
to the rhythm of mountain streams....
If you want to find the source,
you have to go up, against the current,
tear through, seek, don't give up,
you know it must be somewhere here.
Where are you, source? Where are you, source?!
Stream, stream in the wood,
tell me the secret of your beginning!
(Silence—why are you silent?
How carefully you have hidden the secret of your beginning).
Allow me to wet my lips
in spring water,
to feel its freshness,
And we know that Christ is the source of this living Water, Water of Life, where I can wet my lips like in the spring water and feel its reviving freshness.
Lord give me please this Water of Life.
Don't contaminate it by liberalism, relativism, egoism, materialism.