TORMENTED BY THIRST: The Woman at the Well


Third Sunday of Lent - John 4:5-42 

“Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well.” Here we witness one of the most human moments in the life of Jesus. In His tiredness and His thirst, He is one with us and represents all the weariness and thirst of our lives.

The first word that He speaks in this gospel reading is, “give me a drink!” So, before we go looking for anything from Him, we focus on what we can give Him. In what way, can you quench the thirst of Jesus? What does His thirst mean to you?

Later in Lent we will hear Him cry from the Cross, “I thirst!” It’s not just water He needs. He thirsts for you, longs for you to come closer to Him.

You want to come close to Jesus but there are obstacles in the way and His desire is to remove the obstacles, to bring you through them and beyond them.

In the first reading the people were “tormented by thirst”, a very strong expression that also is not just about the thirst for water; it is about the deepest yearnings of the human person, our deepest desires.

We are often tormented by our desire, tempted by the longings that stir in our bodies and souls, and we can be made utterly helpless in the face of these desires. There are temptations that we are able to resist or overcome but there are also temptations that lead us into sin time and time again.

The only thing to do with them is bring them to Jesus in prayer, to speak honestly about them, allow Him to address them in the way He addresses the sin in the life of the Samaritan woman.

What is interesting about Jesus is how He can tell a person the truth about their life – how He can do this without hurting the person but does it in a way that sets them free.

The Samaritan woman is delighted and liberated by the way Jesus speaks to her. “The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people. ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’

This is the joy and freedom He offers to us when we allow Him to speak truthfully, lovingly to the sin in our lives. The liberation does not always take place at once or completely because it is a journey, a life-long process in many cases. But it begins when we honestly place our desires and our sins at the feet of His truth and Love and the outpouring of His Mercy that is without limit.

Eamonn Monson SAC


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