At the Well…
“If you knew the gift of God!” The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2560)
In North America, we can tend to take water for granted. It’s readily available and there are many ways we use it beyond drinking and bathing. In this week’s readings, water plays a very significant part. Through Moses’ obedience to strike a rock with a stick, water flows as a sign of hope for the Israelites. In the Gospel, a woman taking her daily trip to draw water from the well ultimately finds her own fulfillment in Christ as the “living water.” In both readings, we learn that there is a spiritual thirst and a longing in our hearts that only God can fulfill.
Focusing on the woman at the well, we see a woman who’s had five husbands. This is not a judgment of her character for us to make, however we can assume she has been through many partners looking for happiness. When Jesus presents Himself to her while resting from His travels, she is taken aback by all that He knows about her. Her heart is suffering from dryness and a distance from God because of her choices. God is not distant from her, rather she has separated herself from recognizing His love. Still, Jesus meets her where she is – in the familiar place of the well where He can definitively illustrate His point to help her understand what she is missing in her life.
Do you ever feel empty? Maybe you struggle with friends who make bad choices that end somehow dragging you in to them? Or possibly you’ve decided to be in a relationship with someone just to become part of the “popular” crowd. We must realize that all our choices lead us either closer to God or further from Him. No matter what we desire in this world, the only things that will fill our hearts are the choices we make that lead us closer to God. Otherwise all aspects of our spiritual life become dry.
“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.” (Jn 4:10)
There is still an aspect to the story we never discuss: Why was Jesus at “the well?” The obvious answer is: He was thirsty. But thirsty for what; or should we say for who? He was thirsty for the woman’s love and He remains thirsty for you and I. Remember the words He spoke from the cross, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28). A thirst not for the drink they offered Him but a final plea for us to understand how much He wants to be part of us. For us to recognize His sacrifice as a living example that gives us the strength to surrender our lives back to God the Father no matter the cost, whether we feel were worthy of His love or not.
We find ourselves at the well of this world. Jesus meets us and knows our hearts. We need to offer ourselves back in a way that we choose to drink from His cup and grow in our faith-filled living. Just like the water that flows from the faucet, we should never take the “living water of Christ” for granted.
The love of God is never ending. He doesn’t judge us, He doesn’t care if we have been away, He thirsts for us so we will thirst for Him.