3rd Sunday of Lent

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The best kind of water is not spring water or bottled water, mineral water or distilled water. The best water is what you drink when you are really thirsty. Every athlete, laborer, or traveler experiences this.

Action starter: Look at the Cross. What answers do you find there?

In the not so distant past, my generation took water for granted. Since there was not much pollution of the environment yet, one merely digs a well beside the house for water supply. The well does not have to be deep. There is potable water near the surface. For really clean water, the well is covered and a pitcher pump is installed. In the barrios, we drank from streams or we dig a hole beside the river and allow the water to clear. Either we had strong stomachs or the water was cleaner then. Now we buy bottled water. We also buy thirst quenchers such as soft drinks or energy drinks.

The Gospel today is about thirst and water. It is about human need and its satisfaction. The story of the meeting of Jesus and the woman at the well started with a simple request from Jesus, “Give me a drink.” It was noontime. Jesus was thirsty. There was only one village well, but as the custom of the times suggests, one has to bring his own pail or bucket and tie it to the ready rope. By necessity, Jesus had to ask the woman for a drink from her own pitcher. This was socially unacceptable and the Samaritan woman had to remind Jesus about this. Jews and Samaritans don’t mix.

Their dialogue progressed from a simple request for a drink to discussion about living water. Living water ordinarily meant water that flows from a spring rather than stagnant water from a well. However in their discussion it came to mean the water of eternal life. The woman’s knowledge of Jesus also progressed, from a mere stranger who is a Jew, to a prophet, to a messiah and savior. Jesus no longer was a stranger – He became a friend. Because of the woman’s testimony the other villagers invited Jesus to stay with them and He stayed for two days.

From stranger to friend. Another real life story illustrates this movement. Two good friends who were unbelievers were discussing Christianity. One of them, Colonel Robert Ingersoll suggested to his friend General Lew Wallace to write a book that will give scientific and scholarly evidence that Jesus is a fraud, and not a messiah or savior. Since Wallace was a true researcher, he first read the whole Bible. Then he read other scholarly books about Jesus. To get a first-hand experience of the Holy land, he went there and talked to the ordinary people. The result of all this research? He became a believer. He wrote the book which became the basis for the great movie, Ben Hur. A memorable line from this movie was the centurion at the crucifixion saying, “Truly, this is the Son of God.” General Wallace’s thirst for truth was answered.

As we continue our meditations for this season of Lent, we can ask the question, “What do I thirst for?” What is it I really need? Where do I seek the answers? Some people seek for the truth, others for love, understanding and forgiveness. Wallace and the centurion found the answer on the Cross.