My Dear Sisters and Brothers! At a well we meet today Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Maybe it is providential that a well doesn’t evoke in us any twenty-first century romantic connotations like Vue de Monde or Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Instead we can contemplate the scene from the Gospel of St John with minds made pure, with minds searching for God not for scandalous stories.
“Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar. (…) He sat straight down by the well. (…) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her: Give me a drink.” The first reading from the Book of Exodus spoke of people “tormented by thirst” I would like you to think now who was more tormented by thirst in the Gospel narrative: Jesus or the Samaritan woman. Think also whose thirst was quenched.
In a few weeks when you gather in this church of yours on Good Friday to commemorate the Lord’s Passion you will hear Jesus speaking again: “I am thirsty.” He was on the cross when he said that. St John who wrote this testimony introduced Jesus’ request by writing: “Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said: I am thirsty.” When he sat on the Jacob’s well he was not staring into the water there, deep down. He himself was the well with living water. His thirst was not about himself, it was about quenching her thirst, the thirst for love, for meaning in the life, for hope. St Paul in the second reading wrote about “hope that is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.”
Some time ago I read a definition of hope which I still treasure: “Hope means that God has got everything we need and that he wants to give us everything we need.” Jesus had everything the woman of Samaria needed and couldn’t find in her many relationships. Jesus also gave her what she needed. He gave her his love which is redemptive. She was in need of redemption.
So who was more tormented by thirst? If looking at the distance travelled by both of them to quench their thirst we need to state that it was Jesus. His thirst to give redemption to the Samaritan woman drove him into the unhospitable territory, like he was driven to the wilderness, as we could hear a couple of weeks ago.
Whose thirst was quenched then? Jesus’ or the woman’s? I believe that none of them. Jesus’ thirst cannot be quenched as long as there are people who don’t believe in him, who don’t drink from the wellspring of holiness. The woman’s thirst for love, forgiveness, meaning in life and hope was replaced with thirst for making Jesus known and loved by others. Her thirst after the encounter at the “romantic” well resembled Jesus’. She became an evangeliser telling others about Jesus and bringing others to the well of the living water: Our Blessed Lord.
I began this homily talking about some romantic places in Melbourne. If I had to identify the most love inspiring place in the world I would have to say: the hill of Golgotha. There Our Lord and Saviour became the unmistakable well when his Sacred Heart was opened, for us and for our salvation. So let us drink from the well of salvation ourselves and let us bring to the well of the living water those thirst for love, meaning in life and hope being away from God.