Grace to you!
The Psalmist expresses one of the best descriptions of the ultimate desire of the human heart: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Ps 42:2)
From Saint Augustine we receive similar idea when he noted how rest or peace of soul is found in God. Saint Catherine’s mystic description underscores how the satisfaction of the human heart can only be found by a more excellent being than humans, namely God.
Insatiability of every heart (a human reality) is a pointer to a higher desire, a higher thirst. Biblical stories express this reality of human desires. From the book of Exodus (17: 3-7), we hear a story of the people of Israel at Massah and Meribah. They were thirsty and bitterly complained against God. While thirst for water was the immediate, physical need, a spiritual application of the text inserted in the entire plan of salvation (economy of salvation), shows its symbolism to the divine satisfaction of the sojourner.
We see in the story a picture of the Journey of the Pilgrim Church on earth as we make it to our Eternal Home. On the journey, the soul is thirsty for water, the water of life. The soul needs living water to be alive, just as the body needs drinking water to keep going.
So Jesus proposes the water of life to the woman at Jacob’s Well (John 4:5ff). This Samaritan woman led a life that was spiritually dry, morally depraved, troubled and socially isolated. She lacked the Water of Life. Her story is typical of anyone searching to find the fullness of life; hence the Church uses it during this third Sunday of Lent (called Scrutiny in ancient rites) for those who are going to become believers through Baptism on Easter Vigil.
Many of us (like the Samaritan woman) are thirsty, starved of the Living Water. This results to leading lives deprived of inner joy, peace of soul and righteousness.
Jesus proposes to offer the Samaritan woman the Living Water: “If you 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.” (John 4:10) The Lord emphasizes the water He will give is such that anyone who drinks it shall never be thirsty again because the water will turn into a spring inside him/her, welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).
This water isn’t a combination of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. It isn’t a material chemical compound. It is the food of the soul, “the balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course” (borrowing a phrase from Shakespeare), the advocate of sinners, elixir of troubled minds, the consolation of the distressed, the counselor, the Paraclete, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. In essence, we receive the grace of the Holy Spirit promised us by the Lord Jesus. This grace is the “seed of eternal life,” welling unto eternity.
At the last day of the feast at the Jerusalem gate, Jesus stood and made this bold claim: “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of Living Water will flow from within him” (John 7: 38). Scripture noted: by this Jesus meant the Holy Spirit, for whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:39). So Jesus promises to give us his Holy Spirit.
We cannot imagine Christian life without this Living Water. It is like thinking of a car without gas or a marriage devoid of love.
Consider it’s the grace of the Holy Spirit which those to be baptized at Easter Vigil receive when the water of baptism is poured on their head and the Trinitarian formula pronounced (in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). Not only is original sin cleansed, sanctifying grace is impacted, accompanied by the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Further, Confirmation confirms them in the Holy Spirit.
For those who have received this grace, the seed of life eternal, “fan into flame the graces (gift of God) you have received” (2 Tim 1:6).
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.