God never stops thirsting or reaching out for us with the promise of ‘Living Waters’

       What’s a woman to do? We don’t know her name, or how old she is, but one thing is clear, she has many strikes against her.

       First of all, she’s a woman. That alone would make her less than a third-class citizen, not much higher in status than a slave, at the time of Jesus. She’s also a Samaritan – a class of people who, years ago, were the by-product of intercultural mixing with the Assyrians. Samaritans were despised and shunned by good Jewish folks.

       Of course, we can’t forget the five previous husbands, along with the guy she’s now living with outside of marriage. And here she was, bucking all convention for her time. She was at the well, not in the early hours, as was to be expected, but at high noon. None of the other women of the town were there, but she had a thirst.

       And here sits our Jesus, a Jew, in the midday sun. And, (gasp!), he speaks to her. A Jew? Speaking to a Samaritan? Who just happens to be a woman at that? I believe if I had been that woman, I most likely would have turned tail and fled. But not our woman at the well…

       She’s thirsty, and so is Jesus. He asks for a drink. Yikes! Is this some kind of trap?

       So you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan and a lone woman, for a drink, she might have thought.  Ha! You have no bucket, no cup from which to drink, she boldly tells Jesus, knowing that if he drinks from her vessel, he will be considered unclean.

       The conversation now opens wide.

       It’s hot and the woman has a thirst to quench. Maybe the joker she’s living with is thirsty also – too lazy to walk to the well himself, not caring if the woman was opening herself up to ridicule. However Jesus knows all about her thirst; it goes deeper than she even knows.

       We all know that feeling of wanting, but yet being unable to exactly put our fingers on that which we want. Some of us refer to it as a black hole that we are desperate to fill. And, in that desperation, we try to fill the void with things that, in the end, most often prove to be not good for us.

       The woman at the well did that. While we don’t know her exact circumstances, perhaps her numerous husbands and lovers was an attempt to feel love, that deep love for which she thirsted. And here is our Jesus, promising to fill her with a love that will never end – a living water. How curious, yet seductive is that! Of course, against all convention of the time, she engaged in conversation with Jesus.

       Jesus guides her from her unknowing into enlightenment.

       In a reflection on this passage, Jesuit Father John Kavanaugh takes the concept of enlightenment a step further when he writes: “The great truth (here) is God’s thirst for us, even in our sin. Remember, it is Jesus who asked the confused and searching woman for a drink. It is he who reached out to her.

       “When we see the full mystery of Lent and Easter, we realize that, as great as our dry thirst and wide yearning may be, it is God’s eternal thirst for us, for our faith, our trust, our love, that is the central mystery of being.”

       In Jesus’ request for help, his request for a drink of water, he has transformed her from her sense of worthlessness to one of purpose. In her great ‘aha’ moment, look at what she does next.

       She left her water jar at the well, went back into the town and began to evangelize. God had filled her with God’s love – filled her with the living water to the point of overflowing. What else could she do but try to share that Good News with others! And, apparently, she succeeded. (Jn 4:5-42)

       God thirsts for our love too, you know. All we need to do is open our hearts to the Lord and those living waters will flow.


       Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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