Monday, March 20, 2017
The Water of Life
Social scientists and geo-political analysts say that if there is to be a World War III, it will be fought over water.
Water is essential for life. Mindful of Lake Ontario to our north, and the Finger Lakes majestically spread out across our state, it’s hard to believe that water is also scarce.
The first and third readings for the third Sunday of Lent tell us that God is a water giver. God gives water to the grumbling Israelites through the staff of Moses and God gives it to the Samaritan woman through Jesus. “Whoever gives this water I shall give will never thirst. The water I shall give will become in you a spring of water gushing up for eternal life (John 4.14).” With this water that Jesus gives, our potential for growth and life is beyond our imaginings.
But it is not enough to take what the water-giver offers. We need to become the water-giver, Put on Christ. Become Christ and welcome the Samaritan woman who lives in our day.
Once, when I was working as a pastoral administrator in a rural area, I went to the home of a woman who wanted to have her child baptized. Pam’s home was in a rutted country lane in a rundown mobile home. The smell of ten cats assailed me as I walked in. In a cage across the small living room was a weasel. A half hour after we began our conversation, my eyes drifted to the cage. The weasel was out and about. I had to really concentrate on listening to Pam.
Besides baby Damian, there were three older children…by three different fathers, none of whom were married to Pam. Pam and Damian’s father were married. He was an epileptic. They were very poor.
Four children…four fathers. Today’s Samaritan woman. She wanted the water of life for her child, as she had for her older children.
Maybe we don’t know a Pam – but who is it that we are tempted to ignore because of the accidents of their birth or their lifestyle? Whom do we refuse a drink from our own precious well because they are strangers and we might not have enough? Whose life is diminished by our antagonism or worse, our indifference?
Jesus, sitting at the well at noonday risked rejection by the Samaritan woman. She could have turned her back on him, but they were open to each other and the water of life flowed between them.
Does the water of life flow between us when we meet strangers whose life-stories bear the scars of domestic warfare, crippling illness or more?
Give me a drink, Jesus says to the woman. Give me a drink the stranger says to us. Be ready to share the water of life. Let it flow.
~ Sister Joan Sobala