Soul Food for Sundays

A Reflection for The Third Sunday of Lent, 12th March 2023

Reflections 12th March 2023
John 4:5-42

The Author: Colm Reidy C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: February 28, 2023 - 3 minutes read

The first scrutiny or exorcism for the catechumens is celebrated today.

In Lent we are invited to meet Jesus in a personal way.  Jesus understands all that we truly need.  So, as we try to make time to pray during these weeks, we too can come to the living waters and drink from the wellspring of life that Christ pours out for all people.

An extract from Psalm 94 is said every day by many of the religious, ordained and lay people who say the Morning Prayer of the Church. It is a prayer for collective worship, sometimes known as the “Venite: Let us come….”  First comes an invitation to praise the Lord using physical movement (bow, bend, kneel) and musical instruments, in this case our voice (Hail the Lord with songs). Then follow reasons for praising God, usually introduced with the word “for” or “because” (for he is our God and we the flock led by his hand). In the final stanza we hear the voice of God expressing the wish that we learn from the mistakes of the Israelites during the Exodus and from our own mistakes.  We pray the Psalm slowly, reading the text as many times as we are drawn.  God’s voice invites us to soften our hearts so we may listen more attentively to God speaking to us.

Lord God, touch our minds and hearts today as we read alone, as we proclaim in the liturgy, as we share together and, inspired anew, help us to become that Word for all who seek the way, the truth and the life.

This Sunday’s Gospel centres on a very personal encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus sees into the heart of her being. He understands her true longing and invites her to draw from the well of living water. This story is only found in the Gospel of John. It is one of several life-changing personal encounters between Jesus and individuals such as Nicodemus; the man born blind; Pilate; Mary Magdala; and Thomas, among others.

Jacob’s well is about 125 feet deep.  It is not a cistern filled with collected rainwater but is fed by underground springs and the waters remain fresh and cool.  That is why people called the water from this well “living water”.  As well as the meaning of “running water” it is an Old Testament expression meaning divine revelation or vitality.  In the Gospel of John, (Jn 7:38-39) the term also indicates the Holy Spirit.

Most Samaritan women would have collected water in the cool of the morning.  The well was a place where they could socialise.   The woman of the story may have been avoiding them, perhaps feeling ostracised or rejected because of her chequered marital history.

John skilfully uses misunderstanding, irony and changes of subject to portray Jesus breaking social taboos such as gender discrimination, ritual purity and religious hostility, and the moral stigma attached to several marriages.

Photo by Josh Kahen on Unsplash

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Colm Reidy C.S.Sp.

Having already served for some time in The Gambia, Fr Colm was ordained in 1982 and appointed to Angola where he would spend many years. A former leader of the community in Kimmage Manor, he is a member of the Irish Province’s leadership team.