People have one track minds, God wants us to see the big picture.
As I was reading the part about “Living Water” in today’s Gospel reading (John 4:5-42), I was reminded of something interesting. When I teach Baptism preparation classes, at one point I address the topic of the symbolism of water. I ask them, “What does the water of Baptism symbolize,” and they always answer, “Water cleanses.”
“Of course,” I respond, “because the Sacrament of Baptism washes away original sins from our souls. What else does water do?”
And everyone gives me the deer in the headlights stare. This happens every time. So I insist, “Okay, if scientists found water on Mars, what would they immediately begin to speculate?”
Now people’s eyes light up and everyone answers, “Life!” Right. Wherever we find water, life thrives, because we need water in order to survive.
“What else does it do?” … (stumped for an answer, again… so I answer) “It quenches thirst.”
There is a bigger picture we don’t always see, because when our minds are fixed within a context (e.g., a captive audience in a Baptism preparation class), we tend to focus on just one thing and could risk missing out on other important, life-affecting matters. Here is something we may not always see.
When Jesus offers Living Water, do we really know what he is offering? If we did, we would be the ones asking for it. But it’s always God who starts the conversation. Why is that?
There are no coincidences, only God incidences.
For Jesus, the encounter with the woman at the well was not a coincidence. He intentionally sought it. If he had followed protocol, he never even would have spoken to her, because Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans and men didn’t talk to women in public. Naturally, the woman resists — but she’s curious. Like him, she is seeking water, but she’s not just eager to quench her thirst; she’s desperate for something more, something she’s been seeking her whole life. Little does she know, the man she is speaking with has exactly what she’s looking for.
Once the Lord grabs her attention, something interesting happens. She cannot resist the conversation, because he shows sincere interest in her, more than anyone has ever shown her. She is even more intrigued because this man does not even know her.
Yet he does. He even knows her sins. After she tells him she’s interested in this ‘Living Water’ he has to offer, Jesus says to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.”
In other words, she changes the subject. Not so interested in that Living Water anymore. Why not?
It could be because of fear. It could be because of guilt. Even worse, it could be because of shame. Jesus is here to knock down those barriers.
This woman needs to experience God’s love for real. For that, she must be purified. In that way, she is like everyone of us.
The conversation continues in almost a comical fashion. God has worked his way into her soul and built up rapport with her. Now she really wants more. Now she is ready for the real surprise. She has been speaking with someone greater than Jacob — whose well they are drawing water from. Jesus reveals to her that he is the one she has been waiting for.
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”
Leaving her water jars behind, she runs to tell everyone back at home what she just found out.
Where there’s water, life begins to thrive, which is exactly what happens next.
Here’s how we know there was a conversion at the well. The fruits of conversion. Her joy and enthusiasm brought others to the true well, the source of living water. They brought him into their homes, and came to believe that Jesus truly was the Savior of the World.
Conversion is the effect of a conversation in our soul with our Savior. Some people may be scared of this conversation, out of fear, guilt, or shame, but Jesus starts the conversation anyway and draws us in with an offer we cannot refuse.
“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 him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Whatever track your mind is on, whatever problems you are facing right now, there is a solution and God wants it for you. Don’t miss this offer!