All You who are Thirsty, Come to the Water

For 12 March 2023, Third Sunday of Lent, based on John 4:5–42

One of my favorite scripture verses is the first verse of Isaiah 55, which in four weeks, we will hear proclaimed in a darkened church during the Easter Vigil: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!”
In each year’s Easter liturgy, God invites us to come to the water, and in a verse from today’s gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent, we respond: “Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world; give me living water, that I may never thirst again” (John 4:42, 15).
Today, we hear the entire chapter, or at least a lengthy part of chapter 4 of the Gospel of John.
John, chapter 4, begins:

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.
A woman of Samaria 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,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water . . .” (John 4:7-15a)

With today’s gospel, the Church turns its thought and prayer to the catechumens among us—the men, women, and young people who have begun their lenten preparation to receive baptismal initiation at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, April 9th. Like the Samarian woman at the well, they thirst for living water, the outpouring into their lives of God’s Spirit in Jesus.
Next Sunday, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, we will hear the entirety of John, chapter 9, in which Jesus, by stages, brings light to the eyes of a person born blind. Likewise, this Lent, we catechumens and baptized alike long to see more clearly by the light of God’s truth.
On the following fifth Sunday of Lent, we will hear the entire eleventh chapter of John about Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. Jesus, count us too among your friends. Give us life.
Come, Lord Jesus, send down your Spirit, and at the Easter Vigil, raise us, catechumens and baptized alike, into new life in the Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God. Give us living water. Illumine our minds and hearts to walk the way of your truth.
You are the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). This Easter, raise us up into the fullness of baptismal life. And for today, on the third Sunday of Lent, Jesus, give us Spirit water and awaken in us a longing for Easter.

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Gregory Heille, O.P.

Gregory Heille, O.P., serves as Professor of Preaching and Evangelization and director of the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a friar of the Province of St. Albert the Great USA and has a particular interest in racial equity education.