3rd Sunday of Lent | Year A
Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied:
‘If you only knew what God is offering
and who it is that is saying to you:
Give me a drink,
you would have been the one to ask,
and he would have given you living water.’
‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied:
‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give
will never be thirsty again:
the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.’
‘Sir’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water. I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:
‘Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know;
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come – in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
And those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’
The woman said to him, ‘I know that the Messiah – that is Christ – is coming, and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ I who am speaking to you, said Jesus ‘ I am he’.
Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days , and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’
The bucket is an interesting object in this account. The woman at the well noted that Jesus had no bucket and the well was deep, which would have made it difficult for him to get the water without her bucket.
If we pray, we have a bucket. We can reach the water of divine grace and wisdom within, the water that Jesus gives, and draw it to the surface of our consciousness. There it can be used to help us to act in ways which more closely align our lives with that of Jesus. It can deepen our knowledge of and love for God. It can be used to support, advise, counsel or help those in difficulties, those who do not have a bucket or who have lost their bucket.
Jesus speaks about the “living water” being internal, “welling up as spring”. Water in springs carries markers of its origin. A scientist could analyse water samples and identify where they come from. The “living water” which Jesus speaks of has as its markers the gifts of the Holy Spirit - knowledge, understanding, counsel, wisdom, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (sometimes called Wonder and Awe). It also bears the marks of the fruits of the Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. The degree to which these markers of the “living water” are present in our lives is related to how we bring them to the surface.
It is often much easier to get water from a spring than from a well, as it is possible to cup hands and drink from the spring. But water welling up in a spring can be collected in a bucket in much greater quantities, and it can be passed to others. Again it is prayer, an ongoing daily contact with God, which is the bucket. With prayer the water which is accessed is in bucketfuls; without prayer, the living water is all that can be held in cupped hands.