In today’s Gospel, the woman at the well has an encounter with Jesus. His dialogue with her is one of the longest recorded conversations in any of the 4 Gospels. But as we reflect on this gospel this morning, and today, and the rest of this week, make no mistake about it, we are all that woman at the well.
Her understanding of him grows as she ponders his words and questions him on a few points about himself as well as questioning things about herself. And he gives her the answers to all her questions.
As the dialogue continues, her understanding moves from Jesus as simply some “Jew,” to a more respectful “Sir,” to “prophet” (or man of God), to actually being the long awaited “Messiah.” And finally, “Saviour of the world.”
So there is a growth throughout the story in her appreciation of who Jesus is. She moves from misunderstanding and confusion to inquiry and questioning and gradually into the depths of the mystery who is Christ.
Eventually, the woman herself becomes the bearer of the good news to her fellow Samaritans. Her testimony is so impressive that they invite Jesus to stay with them awhile until they, too, believe.
So, I guess at this point in our Lenten journey, our life’s journey, it wouldn’t hurt us to ask ourselves: “Who is Jesus for me.”
When Jesus approaches us, are we as open to him as the woman at the well? Have we invited Jesus to stay with us like the townspeople or do we just come to visit him on Sundays? Because if we are open to Jesus, if we invite him to stay with us, that question of “Who is Jesus for me ?” should always be evolving into a greater understanding of him, just like the woman at the well.
Jesus tells us today that he gives us living water that will become in us a fountain of water bubbling up to eternal life. Jesus himself is that living water and we become fountains of that water, just like the woman at the well.
We do this by constantly coming to a greater and greater appreciation of who Jesus is and then sharing that appreciation with others through our words and actions.
It seems that all too often after we are confirmed and leave our CCD classes ar Catholic grade school or high school that we feel that we know all there is to know about Jesus and God and his Church. But in reality, if God is infinite, how can we as finite beings know everything there is to know about him? Even if we live to be a hundred years old?
Probably the best example I can give of someone who is still growing in his understanding and appreciation of Jesus is Pope John Paul II. We only need to look at his pilgrimage to Jerusalem this past week. Some people think that he went there on vacation. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. He went there to gain some insight on who the person of Jesus really is. You would think that a person as old as he and as knowledgeable as he would know all he needs to know about Jesus and God. I mean, really, he’s the pope! But if the pope, as old as he is still struggles to grow in appreciation of Jesus and his gift of life giving water, shouldn’t all of us do likewise?
Since we believe that Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist that we will receive shortly, we know that Christ renews that living water each time we receive him. Or when we meet him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or any of the other sacraments. But do we let that life giving water, that is Christ, become a stagnant pool during the week or do we become that bubbling stream that Jesus spoke about that will take us to eternal life? How do we become like the woman at the well and learn to appreciate Jesus more and more throughout our lives?
I’d like to suggest two ways. One is through prayer, both by ourselves and with others. Let me tell you, I am always impressed with the number of people who attend the Stations of the Cross every Friday night. There are at least as many men as women and I know that they leave here with a greater appreciation of the sufferings of Jesus as well as some insight into their own lives. Many people attend mass during the week if they have a chance. We can pray when we get up in the morning and before we go to bed at night. This will certainly keep that living water flowing during the week.
The other way we can open ourselves up to the Spirit and to Truth is to come and attend something like the Catholic Study group that will be meeting over in the old convent on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. Or maybe go to one of the adult education classes offered throughout the diocese or at this parish during the year.
Maybe in these ways, like the woman at the well, we can address some of our misunderstanding and confusion about God and his Church and become a fountain of life-giving water for others.