Page 10, 1st March 2002

1st March 2002
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Page 10, 1st March 2002 — The Word
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this week

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17: 3-7; Romans 5: 1-2 &5-8; John 4: 5-42 4 1 f only you knew what God is offering, and who it is saying to you:

'Give me a drink', you would have been the one to ask, and he would give you living water."

Jesus spoke these words during his meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. The conversation had begun with the mundane needs of daily life. Jesus, the thirsty traveller, had asked for a drink of water. The woman expressed her surprise that Jesus, a Jew, should ask her, a Samaritan, for anything. The Jewish and Samaritan peoples were divided by a mistrust that had been hardened by generations of prejudice. Jesus began to break down the barriers of mistrust as he shared his need with this woman. He was thirsty.

When we share our frailty, we meet each other on the level of our common humanity. When we hide our frailty behind an imagined superiority we become a threat to each other.

This seemingly insignificant detail provides an invaluable key to unlock the many prejudices which divide societies and nations.

Jesus used the shared thirst that had brought himself and the Samaritan woman together to examine the deepest needs of our lives.

There are many thirsts which lie below the surface of our physical needs. We are thirsty to love and to be loved perfectly. We are thirsty to understand and to be understood. We are thirsty for the peace that comes from a forgiveness given and received.

Jesus revealed himself as the one who came to satisfy this aching thirst at the heart of sinful humanity. He offered himself as the living water, welling up to eternal lite in the hearts of those who believe in him.

Experience demonstrates that we can fill our lives with diversions and dreams which promise to satisfy our every need. For a while our thirst is satisfied but it soon returns to the frustration of the restless heart. This thirst is sown in our hearts. Properly understood. it will lead us to the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus.

-Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give him will never be thirsty again."

Christ, in the words of St Paul, is the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This hope, unlike so many passing hopes, is not deceptive.

A thirst that can be creative, leading us to God, can be destructive when it turns in on itself. The narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness underlines this point. They were tormented by a thirst that they could not satisfy themselves. Their thirst was real. They had entrusted their enslavement to the God who had led them to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea. Such trust was forgotten in the thirst of the wilderness. Now they entrusted themselves to the grumbling which destroys everything positive in our lives.

Self indulgent complaint is blind to the many graces we have received. Complaint has its place, but when it becomes the self pity which cannot take responsibility for its own life, it prevents us growing in the ways of God.

Within ourselves there are many thirsts which we cannot satisfy. Such deeply felt emotions can lead us down the road of complaint and self pity. or they can lead us to God.




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