Reflection on “Do we thirst for God above all things? God thirsts for us.”
Based on the Gospel of John 4:5-42
The Gospel story today – the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman – is our story…We find in this beautiful story a sense of our own faith journey. The Samaritan woman represents all of us.
Listen to people, watch the news or read the newsfeed ; and, we quickly get a sense that people are so stressed out – young and old, regardless of section of society or status in life – people are filled with fear and anxiety. People are experiencing distancing in relationships, fights among family members, loneliness.
If you think you are not one of them, then good for you – you can then think about helping those who are stressed out and burdened.
What is the cause of all stress and anxiety in people and broken relationships? People are living outside the Kingdom of God – and instead – are living in the kingdom of man.
Jesus – in approaching the woman and asking for a drink – is trying to re-establish that unity that was lost in the Garden of Eden, where our first parents were in communion with God, with each other, and in harmony with creation… but because of sin – ended up outside of the Garden.
As many biblical scholars have noted, the Samaritan woman is an outsider in at least three ways:
First – in Palestine, in Jesus’ time, a woman is a 3rd class citizen – a man speaking to a woman in public was unheard of. Second, she’s a Samaritan: considered half-pagan heretics and religious infidels – she’s racially questionable. Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. Thirdly – she comes alone at midday instead of early morning or late afternoon when it is not too hot – because she’s someone that the other women looked down upon… a woman who had been married five times and was then living with a man to whom she was not even married. She’s not morally upright.
And so – She’s tired, exhausted, life full of drudgery, isolated, seeking friendship, has lifeless spirit…She is the symbol of today’s society and culture. Many are spiritually bankrupt. Many are materially well off, very rich but are spiritually poor. Many are materially poor and also spiritually poor. For many – there is loss of a sense of hope. Many are looking for comfort, happiness, looking for love – in all the wrong places. Many feel rejection both from family and friends.
Why? People are living in false sense of freedom – pursuing more money, more pleasure, sex, more power, more possessions, physical beauty and trying to satisfy all their desires whenever they want, however they want and wherever they want. That is their sense of freedom. But – in reality – human desires for all these worldly things are insatiable… so, people keep trying to get more and more – but never satisfied – still feeling empty in the end… so they keep going back to the “well” so to speak …therefore, they are actually enslaved to the world instead of being truly free as God meant us to be.
Jesus said: “Seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33)
In other words – In the words of today’s Gospel – Jesus said, “…whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In Christian philosophy there is something called summum bonum or the supreme good. The supreme good is believed to be not just the best thing one could ever have – but it is – that supreme good – which contains in itself or brings along with it all other good and desirable things, and it is that supreme good which completely satisfies the otherwise insatiable desires of the human heart.
What is that Supreme Good? Living in the kingdom of God – Life In Christ – which means – having God as king of our hearts, as the center of our lives, of our homes, of our society, and of our world…. Thinking as God thinks, as Jesus thinks, desiring what God desires, discerning and doing and living according to the will of God.
Remember, the kingdom of God – life in Christ – is not just one among so many other good and desirable things. It is the summum bonum, the supreme good, the one and only good thing we shall ever need to achieve total satisfaction, fulfillment in life, true joy, peace, lasting happiness.
As St. Augustine famously put it: “O God, you made us for yourself and our hearts will be restless until they rest in you.”
In other words – If you have Christ in your life, you have everything but if you don’t have God, if you do not live in the kingdom of God – you have nothing.
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, ‘Give me a drink” (vs. 7). Realize this – here – Jesus – the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Word made Flesh reveals the inner life of God, God is thirsting for us!
As Augustine puts it, “Christ is thirsting for our Faith. God thirsts for us, for our Faith, for our friendship; God LONGS TO BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH US! That same God – the Supreme Good – Who created the universe is the same God who longs for a deep relationship with you and me…personally …because God wants to share His divine life with us.
Yet, He loves us so much that He always leaves it up to us to decide how we are going to respond to His invitation. God thinks so much of us, His children, that He respects our free decisions, but He is always seeking and hoping to draw the best from us.
The question to us is: Do we thirst for God above all things? Do we thirst for God as the Psalmist says: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God” (Ps. 42-43:2-3a).
God promised that if we seek Him with all our heart – we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13). The Samaritan woman was a seeker and she found Christ.
Jesus made such a tremendous impact on the woman – because – for the first time in her life she meets SOMEONE who really understands her; the first man who knows everything about her, who knows her so well – her sinfulness, her brokenness, yet – WITHOUT rejecting her… without condemning her.
Jesus does the same for us… Before we even admit our sins, He knows them but He never stops reaching out to us.
My brothers and sisters – Let this Lenten season be a time for all of us to truly encounter the Lord and grow deeper in our own personal relationship with the living God – the Source of Living Water.
To truly encounter Christ is to be transformed… and when you are transformed you cannot help but proclaim Christ to others as the Samaritan woman did – she proclaimed Christ to the people in town.
I will close with this prayer: In the words of the Novena Prayer to St. Teresa of Calcutta – meditating on the words of Christ on the cross: “I thirst”:
“May we allow the thirsting love of Jesus on the Cross to become a living flame within us that we become the light of His love to all.”
“May we, too allow Jesus to penetrate and possess our whole being so completely that our lives, too, may radiate His light and love to others.”