Finding her Mr. Right

Al Cariño, OMI
Editor: Mindanao Cross
Reproduced with Permission

3rd Sunday in Lent

It all started about noon. On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples passed through a Samaritan town (Jo. 4: 5-15, 19-26, 39-42). Hungry and thirsty, He sent His disciple to buy food, while He sat beside a well. Then a woman with a jar came to the well to draw water. Jesus asked for a drink. That was a no-no because of the long history of hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. The woman minced no words in reminding Jesus of that: "How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" She looked on Jesus only as a hated Jew.

In asking for water, Jesus was showing that no historical barriers could prevent Him from reaching out to all peoples. He turned the woman's reprimand into an occasion to arouse her interest in Him by telling her that if she only knew who He was, she would instead ask Him for "living water." Not knowing what He meant, she told Him that He did not even have a bucket, so how could He draw "this living water?"

Jesus then expounded on what he meant by "living water." He told her that anyone who drank ordinary water would be thirsty again, "but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst... (it) will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman had never heard of such a thing. Now addressing Him "Sir," she asked for it so she no longer need to go to the well.

The tide had turned! From the one Who was asking, Jesus was now the one giving. She asked for the "living water" that only Jesus could give -- the Holy Spirit Whom we received when water was poured on us at baptism.

But before granting her request, Jesus asked her to call her husband. This was deliberate. Jesus was now focussing on her core problem -- her love-life. He knew that she was still drifting, looking for her Mr. Right. The woman replied that she had no husband. Jesus agreed with her: she had had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband. Knowing that Jesus as a stranger would not have known about her past, she concluded that He was a prophet.

Finally, Jesus have His last poser: "The hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth." To which the woman responded, "I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed." Jesus jumped at the woman's response by letting her know who He really was: "I am he, the one who is speaking with you."

Hearing that, the woman left Jesus and told her townmates: "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" In the excitement of finding her Mr. Right, she completely forgot why she went to the well -- she left her water jar! More, she became an instant missionary!

Though the people believed her testimony about Jesus, they still went to hear Him in person. And having heard Him, they urged Him to stay with them. He did -- for two days. In the end, they told the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

From this dialogue, Jesus was able to gradually reveal to the woman Who He was: first, a hated Jew, then a respected "Sir," a prophet, the Anointed and finally, the Savior! For her part, this encounter not only made her discover herself, her real need and finally, her Mr. Right -- the Man Who sought her and Who could meet her real need -- that of a love relationship that was also a saving one. And realizing this, she wanted others to receive the same.

This, too, is what will happen to us if we allow Jesus to reach out to us and penetrate our inmost being. We do experience physical thirst which can easily be quenched. But not so the thirst of the spirit which, from their dialogue, we know that only Jesus can quench.

If until now we are still restless and are without direction in our spiritual life -- burdened as we are with our sins and unable to get out of this condition -- is it perhaps because we have not yet really known and accepted Jesus as our personal Savior? For how often have we rationalized our sinfulness with, "What can I do since I am only human?" But in saying that we ignore the reality that we have received the gift of divine life in baptism which God alone can nourish. As St. Augustine said centuries ago, "Lord, you have me for yourself and our hearts will remain restless until we rest in you."

During Lent, it will do us good to give time in reading the Scriptures and reflecting on them. Realizing how far we still are from the Lord, we may then be inspired to desire the gift of life which Jesus is only too willing to give. Then like the Samaritan woman, we may also find our Mr. Right.