3rd Sunday of Lent

Fr Joseph Raju Katthula CMF, is a Claretian Missionary, based in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hayes. He now works as the Religious Life Promoter at the National Office for Vocation.

‘A spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ (John 4:5-42)

One day a candidate preparing for the sacrament of reconciliation asked a priest, ‘Will Jesus really forgive me?’ The priest asked the candidate in return, ‘Do you throw away your dirty clothes?’ ‘No,’ came the reply. Then, neither Jesus our Lord will throw you away.

In the encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, we learn that despite how the world must have treated the Samaritan being sinful, Jesus saw in her the possible missionary that she could be with His encouragement. No matter what our past must was, our future is pure and spotless.

The word water is repeated several times in this passage. In certain parts of the world, we have water in abundance and must not have experienced what the scarcity of water is, like in parts of the world where they need to walk miles to fetch a jar of water. If there is no water, there won't be any life. Therefore, when Jesus speaks about living water in today’s Gospel, He is referring to life which is His own self.

It is always the Lord who takes the first initiative to reveal Himself as we see in today's gospel reading. The whole scene starts as an encounter between two strangers which gets evolved into a mystical transformation and missionary action from the side of the Samaritan woman. The Lord continues to reveal himself through simple day-to-day conversations if we listen to his voice which comes through the people.

St Augustine said our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. Here in today's gospel reading we find the same thirst in God too. It is a paradoxical scene; the giver of the living water is thirsty Himself. The thirsty Messiah and the woman who was in thirst of the living water meet. The voice that echoes in this passage is that ‘my child, my heart is restless until I encounter you, talk to you, listen to you, sit with you and dine with you’. It is a wonderful way to understand how God and  humanity are thirsting for one another.

This passage gives us a glimpse about the power of God’s mercy and love. When Jesus meets this woman, He brings up her past into the conversation not to condemn her or to punish her but rather to reveal Himself to her. Let us pay attention that the name of the woman is unknown, it is left blank by the author so that we can fill with our own names.

No matter who you are and what you have done, you are special, precious and loved by God Himself. This is the good news that the Lord gives us today. Our day-to-day experiences and encounters can be transformative and life changing. Let us be attentive to what happens around us and let us thirst for God in all that happens and in all that we do.

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