HOMILY – 3 Lent – John, Chapter 4
Recent storms have literally muddied the waters in parts of Taranaki, making clean water very scarce. Public interest in the situation rose considerably when the news broke that at least one McDonald’s fast food outlet had to close its doors because of the shortage. They couldn’t cook the chicken properly!
Water features in today’s readings – chosen especially as part of welcoming the adults who will be baptized at Easter – and emphasis, especially in the gospel is on being thirsty. The story opens with Jesus admitting his thirst. God thirsts for us even before we know what our thirst is all about. The scriptures tell us that God has loved us with an everlasting love but, with the patience of a true lover, waits for us to come to the well. What we think will satisfy us, meet our needs, make us happy and fulfilled – can never complete us more than our union with God, the source of living water.
In her conversation with Jesus, the woman discovers she is tasting the waters of rebirth, and feeling herself renewed and refreshed she has to tell others. In the gospels she becomes the first missionary – the first convert. Come and see the one who told me everything I ever did – who opened my eyes to the emptiness of my life and who filled it up to overflowing with the water of his truth, his love, his peace. Jesus never gets the drink of water he asked for, but finds his thirst quenched in the woman’s openness to change; and she leaves her water jar behind – her own thirst quenched in in a way she never dreamed.
This story is not just for those preparing for baptism – it’s for all of us who’ve been baptized; a wake-up call to the gift we’ve been given. If there is still yearning within you for completion; if you still thirst to feel fulfilled, then you should look more closely at the “well” you’re using. The water may be muddied, even stagnant. Rediscover the power of the “living water” of your baptism – and let others see what your union with God really means.
Water, whether the lack of it or too much, is always news. We carry bottles of water to work and to school. We know its value for life and we happily pay for it. The only ones happy just now, with water in short supply, are McDonald’s chickens! When Jesus says the water he brings is a free gift that will flow like a river within you, carrying you to eternal life, why would you not open your heart and drink as deeply as you could?