‘Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again’
Third Sunday of Lent Year A
The Samaritan woman’s journey towards understanding in this week’s reading reflects our own journey of faith. Fr Adrian Graffy writes.
5 On the way Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 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. 10 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.’ 11 ‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered, ’and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? 12 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?’ 13 Jesus replied: ‘Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; 14 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.’ 15 ‘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.’
Other readings: Exodus 17:3-7 Psalm 94 (95) Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
For this and the following two Sundays we shall be hearing lengthy passages from the Gospel of John, chosen to help us prepare for Easter and the celebration of our new life in Jesus Christ. Due to the length of the reading only the opening verses are given here (verses 5-15). You are invited to complete the reading, which ends in verse 42, in your own Bible.
The Samaritan woman gradually learns more about Jesus and what he offers her. Her journey reflects our own journey of faith. The dialogue begins with Jesus seeking a drink and then offering ‘living water’ to the woman. Water gives life. The ‘living water’ given by Jesus points to eternal life. As the dialogue continues it is established that Jesus is not only a prophet, but the Messiah. The woman’s eyes are gradually opening, enough for her to go and tell her townspeople. At the end they too come to believe, not simply due to her testimony but because they have themselves heard the preaching of Jesus.
In the middle of the chapter we hear about the need to worship ‘in spirit and truth’ (verse 23). Jesus comes, and this chapter shows it, to bring together the Jews, the Samaritans and all the nations of the earth in the worship of the one, true God.
How is the Samaritan woman a model for our faith journey?
Are we also sometimes slow to understand the gifts of God?
We pray that we may worship the Lord in spirit and truth.
We pray for the courage to lead others to Christ, the teacher who gives us ‘living water’.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy