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Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent

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Mary Elizabeth Schweiger, OSB | March 11, 2023

We have just come from a full and rich week of powerful wisdom and insights to reflect upon. It hardly seems necessary to offer any more food for thought. So, I will keep this reflection short and simple.

As I spent time reflecting on the Gospel, the one phrase that has stayed with me is the simple words from Jesus: “Give me a drink?” Jesus rarely in the Gospels asks for anything for himself. He is physically thirsty, and it is interesting that in the story that drink of water is never given to him.

Jesus is thirsting for something more than a drink of water. He is thirsting for the Samaritan woman to know that she is loved and accepted for who she is. Jesus is initiating a relationship with her that he needs as well as she does. Even though she had been looking for love in all the wrong places, she was unable to find anyone or anything to satisfy the deep longing of her heart until this encounter with Jesus. Jesus “sees” and “hears” her. Jesus knows her heart and is totally accepting of her.

In asking her for a drink, this simple gesture, breaks down all the barriers of race, gender and differences. Jesus needed her to believe in him. It is with this woman that he reveals for the first time who he really is. She asks: “Are you the Messiah?” His response: “I am he.” Because of the vulnerability of this woman who has been looking for the messiah her whole life, Jesus was able to say out loud who He really was. In the midst of that profound experience, Jesus enabled her to go to the deep well of her inner soul to find the living water that would well up inside her. In that moment she was transformed and wanted to tell everyone.

We see this thirst of Jesus again when he his hanging on the cross. He simply says, “I thirst.” Jesus again was physically thirsty, but he was also thirsty for our salvation. He wanted to be believed. Jesus wanted his disciples, all of us, to know that he is thirsting for us.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta often meditated on these words. In every convent of her sisters throughout the world, there hangs an image of the crucified Jesus. Underneath his arm is displayed the words “I thirst.” Mother Teresa wanted the sisters to mediate on these words. She writes, “At this most difficult time, Jesus proclaimed, ‘I thirst’. People thought He was thirsty in the ordinary way and they gave him vinegar, but it was not for that thirst; it was for our love, our affection, our intimate attachment to him.” It was the sharing of his passion for which he thirsted. Mother Teresa’s life was transformed by this insight and invitation “to satiate the thirst of Jesus.”

Jesus thirsts for our lives to be ones of complete surrender to him. He ardently desires that we be intimately attached to him in such a way that our thirst is for the “true and living fountain” that spring up within us. The real thirst of Jesus is for us to believe in ourselves and to draw living waters from the deep well that is in our hearts.

When we are able to know deep down and experience this tremendous love that God has for us, we too, like Mother Teresa and the woman at the well, can be transformed. We, too, can run and shout to the world, “Come and see Jesus who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this not be the Messiah?” Or, as in the first reading from Isaiah, “Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”