Third Sunday of Lent

March 19, 2017 | Eleanor Suther, OSB

Readings: Evening Praise I: Isaiah 12:1-6; John 4:5-24;

“With joy you will draw water from the fountain of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

Shortly before I was born, my immigrant parents moved to a farm that they were buying. It must have been part of the orphaned immigrant’s dream: to own your own farm— even if it was a rocky farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The house did not have electricity or indoor plumbing.

Our water came from a well down the hill, pumped by a windmill and piped to a barrel by the barn. We would take our water bucket down to that barrel to get water for our use in the house. (There was also a cistern next to the house, collecting rainwater from the roof. We would use that water for washing—but you didn’t want to drink it. Sometimes critters were in it.)

As the years passed, we got electricity and then a few years later my dad was able to hire a company to dig a well closer to the house. It was a poor well, often going dry in the summer drought. And the water had some mineral sediment in it. Another 6 or so years later, we had another well dug and the house was remodeled to have indoor plumbing.

I can empathize with the woman at the well who would like to find the source of living water and not have to keep coming with her water jar to draw water.

Water is essential for life. We always thirst. Scientists tell us our bodies are at least 50 per cent water, our brains and heart 73% water. You are not water, but without it, you would not exist. And so we thirst.

In our readings this weekend, thirst is the symbol that points to our constant need to go beyond. Like the immigrants who seek a better life, we too search to go beyond.

But Jesus tells us something about that thirst, that drive to go beyond, that need for transcendence. It’s already there. It’s already within you.

Like the water that makes up 50% of our body, God’s life is already within us. It’s part of who we are. “If we but knew the gift of God…”

We look for life, for meaning and transcendence in all kinds of places, but we are always frustrated because in the end those places and things are not enough.

When we recognize the Divine, the God of Love within us and within others, and let that love flow through us, our world can be transformed. May we each become the well offering that living water so that all may draw water from the fount of salvation.