The Gospel 12.3.2023

12th March 2023
Third Sunday of Lent

The Gospel
John 4:5-42

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 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. 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.’

‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? 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?’ Jesus replied:

‘Whoever drinks this water
will get thirsty again;
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.’

‘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.’ ‘Go and call your husband’ said Jesus to her ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said:

‘Believe me, woman,
the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know:
for salvation comes from the Jews.
But the hour will come
– in fact it is here already –
when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.’

The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus ‘I am he.’
At this point his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking to her?’ The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’ This brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat; but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples asked one another, ‘Has someone been bringing him food?’ But Jesus said:

‘My food is to do the will of the one who sent me,
and to complete his work.
Have you not got a saying:
Four months and then the harvest?
Well, I tell you:
Look around you, look at the fields;
already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
and thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds good:
one sows, another reaps;
I sent you to reap a harvest you had not worked for.
Others worked for it;
and you have come into the rewards of their trouble.’

Many Samaritans of that town had believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony when she said, ‘He told me all I have ever done’, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

To begin, it is important to prayerfully imagine the scene. Jesus was all alone sitting next to Jacob’s Well around noon. Few women would come to the well at that time of day due to the heat. But this woman came at this time because she knew others would not be around. She was a sinner, and many of the other women of the town knew it. Therefore, in an attempt to avoid them and avoid feeling shame, she came at a time when she could avoid the other women. So the first thing to consider is the suffering this woman was enduring because of her shame and embarrassment over her sinful life.

As she approached the well, she was surprised to hear Jesus ask her for a drink. She was a Samaritan. Jews generally considered Samaritans as ritually unclean. For that reason, Jews would not drink from their vessels. But Jesus broke this unholy custom and looked at her as a daughter of God with innate dignity and value as He engaged her in conversation.

Within the heat of the day, Jesus spoke lovingly to this woman and said, “Give me a drink.” Saint Augustine states that, symbolically speaking, Jesus thirsted for her soul, for her salvation. He longed to give her the grace soon to be won through His Cross. Her willing reception of this gift would also bring satiation to the Heart of our Lord. Jesus didn’t dwell upon her past; He knew all about it. He could read her soul. All He wanted to do was to rummage through the sin and rubbish that was cluttering her soul so as to discover her dignity within. If she were to allow Jesus to offer her this mercy, not only would she receive true Living Water to quench her spiritual thirst, she would also satiate the spiritual thirst in the soul of our Lord that could only be satiated by the dispensing of His mercy.

As we celebrate the Scrutinies this Sunday, reflect upon this woman at the well. First, she is a symbol of every person coming to faith in Christ and preparing for the Living Water of Baptism this Easter. But she is also a symbol of your own soul, to the extent that it has become cluttered with the rubbish of sin and disorder. Do not let shame, fear or a sense of unworthiness deter you from engaging in this same conversation with our Lord. Hear Him say to you that He thirsts for you and longs to be satiated by the sacred act of the ongoing bestowal of His Divine Mercy, poured forth through the Living Water superabundantly given to you at your baptism.


My thirsting Lord, You see me, peer deeply into my soul, see all the filth of sin and disorder and love me anyway. As You spoke to this woman at the well, so You also speak to me, asking me to satiate Your thirst by being open to Your mercy. I do open myself to You, dear Lord, and pray that Your Living Water will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Jesus, I trust in You.