Saint for the day: Casimir (1458 – 1483)
Exodus 17:3-7 – Ps. 95 – Romans 5:1-5-8 – John 4:5-42
“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:14)
The Church gives us this Gospel almost every year and it’s a long one and there’s always the tendency to be time-consciousness and choose the abbreviated text. But, doing that takes away the heart of this story which is filled with multiply levels of dialogue that are important for us to grasp.
The Gospel writers – like they often do in John – have given us a wonderful “word picture” that could be seen as a kind of “Oberammergau Passion Play” done on a huge stage with different characters coming and going so that we a given a wide view of what’s going on.
St. John has a wonderful way of giving us all the information that we need in order to know the entire scope of the story. Most of this is done in what I would call, “1st Person Narrative” so we get all the information we need about what’s going on through the dialogues between the characters as they come and go. It’s the kind of drama that any one of us could easily fit into and that’s the point that St. John wants us to get.
Jesus will always reach out to foreigners, women and others considered outsiders – even as he is totally aware of all the circumstances of their lives. The woman in this story is the sub-narrator as she herself explains what’s going on: “Sir, why are you speaking to a women? You want a drink but don’t have a bucket! … I can see you are a prophet… give me this living water so I don’t have to come here anymore.”
Jesus stays put and is just there for them to come and see and come to understand what he is offering: living water and food that you don’t even know about.
The important fact for us to get from this story is that Jesus is always there. He never moves from the cistern signifying that he truly is the source of living water and the one that offers it to all who ask – even as he knows exactly who we are and what we’ve done. The message of today’s Holy Gospel could have been stated in a few, concise sentences; short and to the point but the wisdom of the writers have given us a story that few will forget.
In the end: the woman leaves her bucket signifying that she has understood that Jesus is the living water, welling up from within. She also becomes a kind of “missionary” in that many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus “for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
If this Holy Gospel were done as a stage play Jesus would never have moved from the edge of the well and we would understand, too, that he is the “Rock of Ages from which flow life-giving waters of Eternal life!” Amen