There is hunger for bread, thirst for water. Both are necessary for life. But people need more: joy, love, and hope. Valuable things can only be obtained as a gift.
Liturgical readings are available here.
The narration about the Samaritan woman and her encounter with Jesus as the source of living water sheds light on her progress in faith through her encounter with Christ. She does not know first, who Jesus is, calls him a Jew, and is defensive. Gradually she engages in conversation with him, as they debate the question of Messiah and the right place of worship (Jerusalem, or this mountain, i.e. Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans used to worship). Eventually, she comes to authentic belief in Jesus and other people join her as well. The gospel comments:
- Many of the Samaritans began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified.
- Many more began to believe in him because of his word.
- We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.
Faith of the woman and other people from the village starts by a simple conversation and it gradually grows to become a personal faith, based not just on a testimony of someone else, but on personal experience. The Lenten season provides us with an opportunity to reflect about our faith. While most people receive faith as a gift from parents and all have an immature faith first, it takes time and effort to make this faith really personal. Faith is not just a set of statements to recite. It is mature only when it determines our life-attitudes, choices, and actions.
Jesus in the gospel moves from Judea to Galilee. The gospel comments: he had to pass through Samaria. From the geographical perspective, passing through Samaria was not the only option for Jesus and not even the most prudent one. Apparently, Jesus acts under some constraint. His presence in Samaria is the result of divine necessity. He must move into the world beyond Israel, amongst enemies of his nation. This move of Jesus reflects the experience of the Johannine community (the community behind the gospel of John). These Christians, living at the end of the first century, also made a similar large step. They left the cradle of Judaism and engaged with the pagan world. This move is justified in the action of Jesus who was the first one to do this.
Such a move beyond the limits of Christianity might bring us outside of our comfort zone, but it also means fulfilling the mission that Christ entrusted to us. The world we live in is not our enemy, but rather a place that needs redemption. The presence of Christians is indispensable in all spheres of human life and in the general society. It is our task to bring Christ to those areas of the world where we live right now. It is our task to be Christ for others.