Go Ahead, Make My Day
3rd Sunday of Lent

Doug McManaman
Reproduced with Permission

Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” That’s all he asked for: a drink. She had no idea who it was who was asking for a drink, nor did she have any idea of the repercussions of responding to his simple request. Christ said it himself: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

We have to remember that this was a Samaritan woman, and as we can infer from the reading, Samaritans were not held in high esteem by the Jews. But now the tables are turned. Christ is the one who is in need, he is thirsty, and she has the power to give him a drink. She could choose to take a course of action that would give her a feeling of being one up on this Jew who is asking for a drink. Think of what she has to give up if she were to give him a drink; it’s more than just a quantity of water. She has to give up this opportunity for some sort of vindication.

That’s how it works. It all begins with God asking us to give him something, something very small and relatively easy for us to give. “If you knew the gift of God”, Christ said. That simple request is the gift of God. He asks us to give him something, and if we do, our giving will open up a floodgate and God will return what we’ve given him a thousand fold. But He waits for us to give first.

And very few of us have any idea of the implications of His simple request, whatever that might be in our lives. Consider how many people turn down the Lord’s simple request, whatever that might be. In my case, it wasn’t a drink of water. I was hitchhiking in the U.S and a priest told me I should get back to Mass and receive the Body of Christ regularly. I knew that this was what the Lord demanded of me, so I made the decision to get back to Mass. How different my life would have been had I decided that I had more important things to do, because in going back to Mass, one thing led to another, which led to another, which led to my studying philosophy, which led eventually to my marriage, which was followed by the study of theology, then teaching high school, and then the deaconate, and from there all the people I’ve been introduced to in my life, the great friendships, etc.

A good priest friend of mine took a group of young people to the Dominican Republic years ago, and among the group was a spoiled rotten teenage girl whom he soon regretted taking with him in the first place. He was that close from putting her back on a plane to Toronto, she was that difficult. A spoiled princess; and all she could do was complain. And she had beautiful blond hair. One of the children of the village became very attached to her, and before she left with the group to go back home, the little girl who took to this princess asked her if she would cut off some of her hair so that she could keep it. So she cut a big piece of her hair off and gave it to the child, and the child was so happy to receive it. That spoiled rotten girl is now a missionary in Africa. Her entire life was changed by that trip. And her transformation began with a simple request for a piece of her hair. That opened up the floodgates of divine grace.

A friend of mine is a young priest, and he recently told me that in his 3rd year in the seminary, he went through a bit of a struggle with the idea of celibacy. He’s a good looking young man, and some very good looking young women were very interested in him. But he made the decision to place himself in the hands of the Lord: “Your will be done, Lord. My life and my sexuality are in your hands.” He’s now a priest and what amazes him is that celibacy is not a struggle for him at all, and he’s never experienced a greater joy in his life.

Recently I heard of a man who had a conversion experience, not far from here in a nearby diocese. He’s about 50 years old, and he’s so grateful to God for the new life that he’s found that he just wants so badly to give something back, and all he has are his skills as a mechanic. So now his entire work is consecrated to God. This is his way of giving back to God, and so he does not charge any labour when he works on the cars of senior citizens. For others, he gives them the best deal possible. He did a tune up for a priest friend of mine for $60. Out of curiosity, my priest friend called up a Canadian Tire and asked what it would cost for this kind of tune up, and he described the work his parishioner had done. They told him $375. And this man works with such a profound sense of gratitude and, needless to say, great joy.

You see, when we are full of the love of God, when we are moved by His love, we have this burning need to give back, and our joy is precisely in loving God back, through loving others. It can be a frustrating thing for someone who has nothing to give, who is too poor to give, or has no special talent to give. All this man has are his skills as a mechanic, and he’s giving them to God. But what a regret it is for him to look back and know that the last 25 years could have been this meaningful and joyful.

I think one of the greatest pains in store for people who have been blessed with great wealth, but who have neglected their faith for most of their lives—if they are lucky enough to make it into the Kingdom of God through final repentance--is that they will have this desire in gratitude to give back to God, but the time will have past, they will see that they had the means to do so much good with the talent they were given, whether it was a successful business and tremendous financial blessing, etc., they will see the good they could have done, how much they could have loved God in return, but did not, because they were too worried about themselves, because they did not have a strong faith in divine providence and were too preoccupied with their own survival to be thinking about ways to love God back. And because of that, they missed out on so much.

All the Lord waits from us is that we give to him the little thing he asks of us, whatever that might be. If we are generous enough to give it, that will be the excuse that God needs to shower us with blessings. He is a God of mercy and inexhaustible goodness, but He is a God of Justice, and so He looks for one reason to pour out his blessings upon us. It’s the opposite of Dirty Harry’s “give me a reason” or “make my day”—he’s looking for a reason to use his 44. In the Lord’s case, He only wants to give life, and all we have to do is give him that reason, a minimal requirement of justice, but so many people refuse to give Him that one reason.

The Lord will give us living water, which is water that does not run out because it grows from within, and it quenches our deepest thirst. He will give us this living water if and only if we are willing to give to Him the little thing he asks each one of us. I don’t know what that is in your case, but I do know what that was and is now in my case. If you take that step in blind faith and give him what he asks, your life will not be the same. You’ll just be giving the Lord the reason He’s looking for to repay you a thousand fold.