The woman that Jesus meets at Jacob’s well at Sychar has lived for a long time on well water. Now I have never had to live on water drawn from a public well but I would imagine that with all sorts of people using that well, including the sheep and goats, there would probably be things floating around on the top of the water that you would have to skim off, youwould never know what you were going to get. It would certainly be nothing like clear, running, mountain spring water. However, a well in an arid land is a blessing and I am sure that the people who lived there were just happy that their well provided them with water for life. With a well the people could survive. However, Jesus had something more to offer. Jesus offers more from life than just survival. Jesus says to the woman, “if you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (Jn 4,10)
Often in our lives we can get stuck in a survival mode. We go through our daily routines and settle into a pattern of life that seems comfortable. We get through each day. That’s life and life is life, right? It’s not perfect but it gets us by. We settle for what we have. I think that the woman that Jesus meets at Jacob’s well had something like that going on in her life. She had made adjustments along the way, she was a survivor, she was getting by. She had someone she was living with who wasn’t a real husband but neither were the other five “husbands” she had lived with. It was what she knew life to be. Jesus comes along and offers her something better: a drink of living water from the well of divine grace and mercy. She experiences now a thirst that she had never known before, a thirst for the good, she wants her life to be better. No more stagnant well water for her. Jesus offers all of us the living water of life. He is that “something better” that brings joy and fullness to our life.
In the gospel Jesus speaks to us about the true sources of food and drink that will satisfy our deepest longing. Jesus speaks to the woman at the well about a new sort of water that comes forth from a spring and is “living water”, water that flows from a pure source and remains clean, fresh and life-giving. This water is given to us by God as a gift. Just as God was able to make water spring forth from a rock in the desert for the people of Israel, so can God give us fresh, living water that springs forth from within us and is always being replenished. This water is God’s gift and grace. The grace of God that flows forth from his Holy Spirit that dwells within the baptized is a source of never-ending life.
The “spring” is a sign of origins, new beginnings, life refreshed and pure. The water that comes out of a spring is “new” water. Jesus offers to the woman at the well a water that is “living water”, a gift that becomes for the believer an interior source of life, an interior spring: “the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(Jn 4,14) This “water” gives new life and is ever a source of this new life. It is a water that comes from God for it is the water of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a source of life that dwells within the believer. As St. Paul tells us, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”(Rom 5,5) This Holy Spirit is like an interior spring that becomes a source of life that flows forth from within the baptized. This Spirit gives life to believers and also to those around them. God gives us freely the gift of new life and bids all those who are thirsting to come and drink at the spring of new life welling up within the believer. Because this spring is within us and comes from the source of grace we will never thirst again for we will never be without the gift of divine, eternal life.
If we hunger, God also wishes to satisfy our need. Jesus tells his disciples, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.”(Jn 4,34) Our spirit is fed on the true spiritual food of God’s will. This Word that feeds us should dwell in our hearts always. During this Lenten period we experience hunger and thirst. Our hunger is for God’s Word and our thirst is for the new life of His Spirit. Let us open ourselves to these true gifts of life that we may come to “know the gift of God,” and have his divine life always within us.