Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

Have you ever been to the outback? Not the farmland nearby, I mean the real outback where even the trees fade away and all you are left with is this dry hot scrubland and there is nothing in sight for miles and the heat is just beating down on you. Out there, all your cares and concerns in this life are stripped away, you are in survival mode and the only thing you can think of in that dry, hot place is ‘I’m so thirsty, I feel like I’m dying, I want something, anything to drink to quench this thirst, I need water.’

What do you thirst for in this life? The most basic thing we thirst for is water. But when we have enough water what else do we thirst for? We seemingly have insatiable desires for so many things. This Sunday’s Gospel gently brings us back to the basics of our desire, what satiates who we are. Are we just talking about water? In the desert of our physical life water is the guiding element which we crave, but in the Gospel, water means so much more than this. The Samaritan woman represents us, we who thirst for life and go to the well, drawing again and again the water which we know will only quench our thirst temporarily. We just keep going there in order to get by.

We desire complete satisfaction, not only in water but in all things. What about intimacy? What about purpose? What about love? Who or what will satisfy this insatiable human thirst? The woman in the Gospel has had five husbands and is still left wanting. She is searching for more, she is searching for God.

Jesus, sitting right by that well of her desire, knows how deep that well is. Jesus very plainly tells her his own desire - ‘give me a drink.’ What sort of drink do you think Our Lord is asking for? What does Jesus desire? He thirsts for your soul. Not only this, he wishes to give you water, living water that will in turn satisfy your soul completely, becoming a continuous wellspring eternally quenching your desire.

When I look deeper down that well of my own soul’s thirst, it is something more profound than any material satisfaction. I desire that spiritual satisfaction which only God can give - water for my soul that can bear fruit and even nourish those around me. There are many things which I desire, but Jesus invites me to return to my most fundamental one, the living water from God that quenches my soul’s desire and is shared as a wellspring for others. Do you know what you really want? Have you ever experienced genuine thirst? Is your well of desire shallow, or can it go deeper?

Fr William Loh, O.P. Chaplain for Monash University.