Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of John 4: 5-42
Refreshed, cleansed and a coming to faith. Water plays an important part in this Sunday’s Scripture readings. In the first reading from Exodus, God provides water for the Jews wandering in the desert after their departure from slavery in Egypt. In the Gospel, a request for a drink of water leads to more than just quenching ordinary thirst.

In Jesus’ time, the countryside had dry, almost desert-like soil. To obtain water for crops, animals and household use, a system of canals, reservoirs and dams was built to get the water from the rivers and streams into the villages. Water was piped into only the wealthiest houses. Most people went to the fountains, wells or streams to fill their jugs, jars and pitchers with water.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus stops to rest beside a well when a Samaritan woman comes to fill her water jug. Jesus says to her, “Give me a drink.”

“You are a Jew,” she answers, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won’t have anything to do with each other?” Jesus answers, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask him for the living water.”

The compassionate, patient conversation that follows gives us a glimpse of God’s unconditional love and generous mercy. Jesus speaks of her past life – she has had five husbands and is now living with another man, but there is no trace of condemnation. Jesus wants her to know that nothing she has done prevents him from offering her his living water.

She slowly recognizes Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Refreshed, cleansed of guilt, and brought to a new life of faith by this water of eternal life, she tells the townspeople what happened at the well. They, too, come to meet Jesus.

This Gospel story is a beautiful example of the sacrament of reconciliation – confession. As Lent continues, Jesus wants us to come to him for his living water to be refreshed, to be cleansed of our sins, and to be so transformed by his grace and mercy that we’ll want to share our faith – the Good News – with others.