We live in a land of extremes!!! Droughts, floods, cyclones, thundering surf, gentle breezes, blue skies and scorching heat! A sun burnt country surrounded by jewel seas! The Holy Land in lots of ways is somewhat like our own, except it is not surrounded by water, like we are, as an Island Continent. However, when one is thirsty; there is nothing more that matters than to have it quenched. In the first reading today, we hear of God’s people grumbling, because they were thirsty and weak. The recent memory of their liberation from slavery in Egypt, and the massive change in their relationship with their God due to the Sinai experience did not quell the consuming need to drink! It consumed all their thoughts and desires. The craving to be refreshed caused a haze within their corporate minds, which blurred their memory of the saving activity of a loving God among them, and a God who would never abandon them. I think that we all can identify with these people.
In the midst of their questions and grumbling, God once again hears their cry and appeal, and comes to their aid. The water gushing from the rock at Meribah was more than just a free drink! We need to dwell on that experience for a moment. Just imagine, you are just so thirsty that you become weak, dry and cranky; you come upon a spring, gushing out of the ground with beautiful cold and pristine water; what do you do? You get down on your knees, and madly splash the water all over your face, and drink! Very quickly your feel revitalised! The zip in you returns! The mind becomes clear! This has direct bearing on the spiritual significance; it was an outward sign of God’s life within his people, and refurbished their desire to respond to Him in fidelity, loving commitment and communion with each other. Hence for our Ancestors in faith and for us, WATER is a SIGN of God’s life within us.
This theme is taken up in today’s Gospel, where Jesus enters into a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Adding to the depth and meaning of this story, is the fact that Jews and Samaritans had a terrible dislike for each other, and it was improper for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, and the same went for the Samaritans towards Jews. This means everything to Jesus: he initiates a dialogue, which had far deeper implications than just the breaking with local customs! Through the conversation with the Samaritan woman, we see that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law; the Torah, (the first five Books of the Bible, represented by the five Husbands in her past life) and he in fact is the fleshed Word of God offering new life, and salvation for all. It would seem that the woman’s five husbands were now superseded by the one husband – Jesus; characterised in the Marriage – Covenant, originally initiated by the Lord God on Mt Sinai….”I will be your God, and you will be my people” The Kingdom of God does not depend upon certain places or spaces of worship; but it is real and alive within an inner conversion which opens us up to see in Jesus, the saving hand of God at work. In short, the water from Jacob’s well reminds us of the bottomless reservoir of God’s love and life, offered to us and to everyone all the time; it has the latent power to revitalise our response to Jesus – the Word!
The Sacrament of Baptism is the beginning step and welcome door mat for us as we journey towards full incorporation into the body of Christ in Eucharist. The fact that we have candidates in our midst who are preparing for entrance into our community at Easter, is a reminder to all of us, that the life which our God offers us is not solely to quench our personal thirst for His love, but as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us, it is ‘Our Father’ to whom we pray, and that companionship which we share through the Eucharist, urges us in love to reach out to one another, as Jesus did to the Samaritan. It is a challenge to break through the social so called ‘correctness’ to know that God’s Household is for all! May this time of Lent invite us to recognize the Lord in those, who unexpectedly, may offer us the life giving waters of love and compassion. When we notice a new face in our community…try not to be bashful, but gently go to them, and offer your name to them, and receive theirs in welcome. To be noticed and warmly welcomed is revitalising for them, because we know what it feels like as well. May we in turn be sensitively alert, to welcome those who come, and sit at the well with us in daily life. May we be renewed, like the Samaritan woman, that we are not alone, and that our God is OURS! Not MINE!