Sitting with today’s Gospel, one of the first things that came to me is the humanness of Jesus. He is a traveler on a hot and dusty road and sits on a bench as any one of us would, grateful for the chance for a brief rest. You can almost see yourself sitting beside him taking a breather. Jesus is thirsty, and so are you.
The next thought that struck me was the divinity of Jesus. Can anyone imagine that this encounter with a Samaritan woman was accidental? No, Jesus came to the well at that moment with the express purpose of meeting her. It was because of his love for the Samaritan woman that Jesus suffers thirst.
Divine and human. Creator God and created being. Not mixed, not blended, two distinct and complete natures in one person. Jesus as man thirsts for water. Jesus the divine thirsts for souls.
When he asked the woman of Samaria for water to drink, Christ had already prepared for her the gift of faith. In his thirst to receive her faith he awakened in her heart the fire of his love. As tired though his body is, his thirst for souls is even greater. So, when the Samaritan woman arrives Christ turns eagerly to save the lost sheep and he forgets his tiredness, his hunger, and his thirst.
The Samaritan woman’s thirsts are the deep thirst that all of us are born with. Like her, we thirst for something we cannot immediately identify. We cannot give it a name. But we know that whatever satisfies it must be unfailing, lasting, and present to us always. If you had asked her why she came to the well, she would have answered with the same kind of abruptness that she initially used to address Jesus in conversation: “Can’t you tell? I have come for water.” But there is a stranger waiting for her at the well who sees right through her, unmasks her desire—her thirst for the eternal. And Jesus helps her to give it a name: “I am he, the one who is speaking to you”.
The heart of the Samaritan women is changed, as are ours through every encounter with the Lord. She came to the well seeing only Jesus’ human nature. She departs transformed and converted by Jesus’ divinity. At once she is driven to evangelize, to spread the good news leaving her bucket empty and abandoned, for she no longer thirsts.
This Lent, Jesus calls us to come to him, to unmask our desires and find out what hides behind them. What hides behind your thirst for water, for possessions, for experiences, or for love? Give your desire a name. Jesus says, “I am he, the one you seek”.