Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5: 1-2, 5-8; Jn 4: 5-42
Jesus alone, can satisfy the thirst in our hearts
A couple of Catholic young men from the North were visiting a dusty little town in the back country of West Texas. It was a hard-shell Baptist town in the Bible belt of the South: “No drinkin’ and no dancin’ area”! But these two were strangers; so they asked a cowboy where they might get a drink. “In this town,” said the cowboy, “we use whiskey only for snakebite: to wash the wound as first aid.” Then he added slyly, “If you guys are so thirsty for whiskey, there’s only one poisonous snake in this town and that is in the zoo. So you better get a ticket to the zoo, go to the snake park, get hold of a cobra through the iron bar of its cage and give it a big hug! The zoo keeper will appear immediately with whisky.”
Dear friends! I remember the days growing up in my native place; I had to go a mile or two to fetch drinking water for the family. Throughout our visit in the Turkana province of Kenya, we could see young and old running towards our vehicle asking for drinking water. I can easily feel one with the woman at the well in today’s gospel.
In today’s Gospel story we see both the Samaritan woman and Jesus are thirsty. Thirst for what? Their thirst was not just the physical water but a spiritual thirst. Jesus’ thirst was to win the soul of this woman. For a brief moment let us focus on words of Jesus on the cross, “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled,* Jesus said, “I thirst.” (Jn 19:28) Thirst of Jesus was a thirst for souls, he completes that thirst finally on the cross. There he says, “it is finished” and bowing his head, he handed over his spirit. In today’s gospel Jesus said to his disciples, ““My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work”. It is on the cross Jesus completes his work.
In the gospel today, Jesus not only talked with the woman, but in a carefully, he guided her progressively quenching her spiritual thirst from ignorance to enlightenment, from misunderstanding to clearer understanding, thus making her the most carefully and intensely catechized person in this entire Gospel. Jesus always has a way of coming into our personal lives. Jesus entered into the personal life of this woman. He wanted to free her, forgive her, shape her life in a new direction, and change her. He wanted to offer this woman living water. At the end of the long heart-to-heart conversation Jesus revealed himself to her as the Messiah, which in turn led her to faith in him.
The Samaritan woman tells Jesus: “Sir, you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep, where would you get that life-giving water? But Jesus explains to the woman that he isn’t talking about physical water to quench physical thirst. He’s talking about spiritual water to quench spiritual thirst. Pointing to the water in the well, Jesus says, “Whoever drinks this water will get thirst again, but whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”
The point Jesus is making is this: we all have a spiritual thirst, similar to our bodily thirst for water. What is this spiritual thirst that we all have? What is this inner emptiness that we all experience? The Psalmist says in Ps 42: “As a deer longs for a stream of cool water, so I… thirst for you, the living God”. The thirst we all feel is a thirst for God. It is the same inner thirst that people have experienced since the beginning of time. St. Augustine explained it this way: “Our hearts are made for God, and they will not rest, until they rest in God.” A later writer put it more poetically, saying, “Our hearts have a God-shaped hole in them, that only God can fill.”
This leads us to a great tragedy in modern times. It is this: we are trying to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts with something other than God. We are trying to satisfy our spiritual thirst with something other than God. Trying to satisfy a spiritual thirst with material things is like trying to satisfy a physical thirst with salt water. The more we drink, the thirstier we get.
This brings us to the “good news” contained in today’s gospel: Jesus, and Jesus alone, can satisfy the thirst in our hearts. He alone can fill the void in our lives and calm down the restlessness in our hearts. Jesus is the water from heaven come to satisfy the thirst we fell. Therefore let our prayer be: Lord Jesus, you are the life-giving water for which we thirst, happiness and success for which we strive and peace and joy for which we search. Lord Jesus, our hearts are made for you, and they will not rest until they rest in you.