As we continue on our journey through this Lenten season, the Church offers us in the lectionary the account of Our Lord meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. The question for us today is: For what do we thirst?
If we read carefully the opening of our Gospel reading, we will see that text points ahead to another event in the Gospel. Our Lord is tired, we are told, and sits down by a well. We are told it was ‘about the sixth hour’. The Samaritan woman then appears on the scene seeking to draw water. On seeing her, Jesus says: ‘Give me a drink.’
What we have here is a foreshadowing of Calvary. The Eternal Word, having condescended and dwelt in the midst of his own creation, subjected himself to an earthly journey, one which entailed sweat, toil, and rejection. The well of Sychar prefigures the cruciform-well of the Cross of Our Lord, on which he made reparation for all humanity ‘at the sixth hour’. The Cross becomes the sacred-well of living water which satisfies the thirst of every man and woman.
St Augustine tells us that Our Lord represents Israel, and the Samaritan woman the alien Gentile peoples. The well of Sychar is a meeting point. Here is the meeting of the God-man Jesus and the woman of Samaria. At Calvary at the cosmic well, we have the meeting of estranged creation with its Creator. We have the outpouring of the life-giving water of grace for broken humanity, symbolised in the water that came from Jesus’ pierced side.
Perhaps through sin, be it deliberate or through negligence, we have become estranged from God. Maybe we have sought to quench our thirst for fulfilment and happiness in things we realise can only short-change us in the long-run. If so, we can take great encouragement from this encounter of Our Lord with the woman of Samaria. Christ is always ready to impart to us his life-giving grace in order that we may enjoy friendship with him. We ought, first, to recognise our thirst; only then can we seek to quench it by means of the Cross.