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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

249. Quenching Christ’s Thirst (John 4:1-30)

March 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditations, The Better Part

“To show that he was not different from us, he undertook hard work, he went hungry and thirsty, he took rest and sleep, he did not shirk suffering, he revealed the Resurrection.” – St. Hippolytus

John 4:1-30: When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had found out that he was making and baptizing more disciples than John – though in fact it was his disciples who baptized, not Jesus himself – he left Judaea and went back to Galilee. This meant that he had to cross Samaria. On the way he came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman 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, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’ – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied: ‘If you only 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.’ ‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered, ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus replied: ‘Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.’

‘Sir,’ said the woman ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband,’ said Jesus to her, ‘and come back here.’ The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ He said to her, ‘You are right to say, I have no husband; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir,’ said the woman. ‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said: ‘Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know: for salvation comes from the Jews. But the hour will come – in fact, it is here already – when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and, when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus, ‘I am he.’ At this point, his disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘Why are you talking 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 brought people out of the town and they started walking towards him.

Christ the Lord Passing through Samaria was not the only route from Judea to Galilee, but Jesus chose that route. He knew the bigger picture. He is always attentive to our needs, just as he was attentive to the needs of this woman and her countrymen. He never uses his knowledge and power to oppress and abuse, but only to amplify his love.

Christ is the Savior of the World, the Messiah, the long-awaited King greater even than Jacob, inheritor of the Promise and father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, so he tells this divorcee. He graces the Samaritan woman with one of the richest descriptions of himself and his work that appear in all the Scriptures. Why? Why tell so much to someone so insignificant? Because to him, she wasn’t insignificant at all. He wanted to be known by her, to give her hope, to save her. Ours is a Lord who wishes to shower us with his love, to fill us with the “living waters” of “the Spirit and truth,” and to “tell us everything.” This is the God in whom we believe; this is the Lord we serve.

Christ the Teacher Jesus was tired after his journey. He sat down by the well, thirsty, hungry, worn out. He was so thirsty that he skirted all social protocol and asked a Samaritan woman to give him a drink. But his tiredness doesn’t hold back his love. He had come to rescue the lost sheep – this was his mission. The Samaritan woman came to the well at noon, the hottest hour of the day. The other women of the village would have come in the cooler hours of early morning and evening. This one was obviously avoiding contact with her peers. Jesus certainly notices this, seeing in her eyes the anxiety that comes from an unstable life, but he also sees a spark of sincerity – her rocky path through life had worn down any façade of self-righteousness or self-delusion. She was a woman in search of answers and direction, though she had perhaps given up on finding them. Jesus sees all this in her eyes, and he can’t contain the love that overflows in his heart. He sees a soul in need, and he can’t help reaching out. This is why he came.

Jesus became one of us on purpose with a mission in mind. Because of our sin, we could no longer raise ourselves up to friendship with God; so God comes down to meet us. In the Incarnation of Christ and the Church (which is the extension of that Incarnation throughout history) God continues to come down to meet us. He addresses us, he walks with us, he humbles himself so much that he even needs us to give him a drink: “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). When the Samaritan woman encountered this God who was man, she was so transported with joy and so eager to spread the news that she forgot to bring back her water jar, the very reason she came to the well in the first place. Christ is the kind of friend who can make a real difference in our lives, one who can put things in perspective – if we let him.

Christ the Friend The Samaritan woman: I knew something was different about that man as soon as I came up to the well. He looked at me in a way that men didn’t usually look at me. I met his eyes for just a second, and then I looked away. But I wanted to look again. I had seen in his glance something that I had only dreamed about before: he knew me completely – he knew exactly what kind of person I was. Yet it didn’t bother him; in fact, it was as if he was glad to see me – not because he wanted anything from me, but because he seemed to want something for me, as if he were pure kindness. So when I looked away, because that was the proper thing to do, I was just dying to look at him again, to see that kindness in his eyes, to drink it in.

But then I thought, no, it’s only my imagination. And then he spoke to me. He asked me for a drink. And that was the beginning of a conversation that changed my life. I didn’t understand everything he told me, but I understood that he knew me – he knew me through and through and he still cared about me, he was interested in me. For him, I was important, not just because I could give him something, but just… well, just because. In his eyes, I mattered. Even then I knew that what he said about being the Messiah was true. How else could I explain the change that was already happening in my heart? It was as if a door had opened in my life where before there had only been a thick, dark, high wall protecting my broken heart. He freed me. I had to tell the others in the town. I knew he was the Savior, and I just had to tell everyone. I knew that as soon as they met him they too would realize it. And they did! Before that day I was just surviving; after that encounter with his words, his glance, his presence – from then on I began to live.

Christ in My Life Jesus, tell me everything. Tell me about myself and the meaning of my life; tell me about your love and your wisdom and your plan for my life. Lord, give me your living water – how thirsty I am! I have tasted your gifts; I know at least a little bit about what you are offering. I want to know more. I want to live closer to you. I want to lead others to your heart, just as you led me…

I believe in you, Lord, and in your eagerness to save souls who are stuck in sin and darkness. And I believe that you can save them, just as you turned this woman’s life around – just as you have turned my life around. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for giving me a mission in life…

What does it mean, Lord, to worship in “Spirit and truth”? You want it; you came to make it possible. To worship is to acknowledge your greatness, majesty, and goodness. You want me to do so not only in external ceremonies but in my heart, in my attitudes, in my choices. You want me to live as you would have me live, Lord, trusting in you, seeking your will always. Teach me to do so because this is what you desire…

 

Editor’s Note: The Gospel to be read this Sunday will also include all, or part of, John 4:31-42 which Father Bartunek reflects on in his next post…on line today here.

PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.

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Art for this post on John 4:1-30: Cover of The Better Part used with permission. Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Jacek Malczewski, 1909, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at RCSpirituality.org, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at SpiritualDirection.com.

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  • Kantoi09

    Thank you for sharing. I can so relate to this woman. i have been on the same path, so weary and broken by life. But each day, the Lord shows me his love and gives me the strength to keep moving forward.

  • SALIBADORIS

    thank you for all the mail i donate as soon i receive my money THANKS GOD BLESS YOU ALL

  • LizEst

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Father John.

    …and how beautifully we hear the words of the Old Testament in the new…
    “They have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water…” Jeremiah 2:13bc. Indeed, “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us…that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh” 2 Corinthians 7, 11b. How great is the power and the love of God for us!

  • Evarg

    BEAUTIFUL!! Just beautiful, thank you so much Father John. I can relate to this Samaritan woman, it’s as if she is almost given up because but she still has that little bit of hope that there is something out there and then cam Jesus, the Savior into her life. That is exactly what happened to me, I hadn’t totally given up but I felt a sadness deep inside and then He came into my life and changed everything and gave me answers.

    It is still a challenge everyday to try to follow Him but like this woman, I feel la kindness and love wash over me whenever I feel his presence or I am reading the word of God. I feel that He is the Truth, The Ligh and the Way.

    Thank you, I think this is a very good example of the love and compassion that Jesus, our Lord feels for us.

  • Rocio

    Thank you Father Bartunek

  • Maria

    Thank you Fr John for this wonderful article. I too had problems in my married life, but since Jesus Christ came into my life, I am a different person.He is certainly the Way, the Truth and the Life for me and I place my complete hope, faith and trust in Him. We praise and thank God for everything.

  • mmaloney

    Thank you Father John, that was beautiful. I will be taking this to my RCIA class tonight to share.

    God bless

  • Melinda

    One of my favorite passages. It truly shows how Christ loves us so tenderly. Thank you, Father, for your words of wisdom about this passage.

  • Colin

    Jesus realy knows us fully

  • Edithfabian

    Thanks so much fr John for sharing this your reflection on the passage of this Gospel. Actually it has once again reminded me of the mission God has entrusted in my care; that is, drawing people to HIM through living out concretly and credibly my experience of God in my daily endeavour.

  • Ann McDonald

    A great meditation. I will reread this as well as send it to my friends.

    Thank you.
    Ann from NYC

  • Jisha

    Thank you for the sharing father.God bless !

  • Guest

    God bless you, Fr. John for this fitting Post during this Lenten Season. As I gaze at Jesus looking back at me through His Image of the Divine Mercy, this is my heartfelt Prayer to him:

    “Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for giving me a mission in life…”

    He guided me and gave me this Mission to become a member of the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy to spread this Devotion to the Catholic Faithfull in our Parishes of the Diocesses and Archdioceses in Kenya.

    And I am cunting the days as I prepare – along with all the Catholic Faithful where we have preached the Divine Mercy Devotion – to celebrate The Feast of the Divine Mercy on 1st May. This is the day when Christ shall open the floodgates of His unfathomable Mercy for the whole world. And to those who will have prepared appropriately for this Feast by praying the Novena which starts on Good Friday and which Jesus dictated to St. Faustina in 1931, along with the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, go for confession during that period, attend the Holy Mass, receive Him in Holy Communion and venerate His Divine Mercy Image, will receive the outpouring from God’s inexhaustible Ocean of Mercy and the avalance of Graces as all their sins and punishement thereof will be forgiven and their souls will be restored to the Divine condition they were in on the day of Baptism!!!!!

    • Jesusbpraised

      Dear friends in Christ,

      I can attest yo the truth of what Mary says, because it happened to me…I was restored and made new…just as she says. I call myself a “victim” of Divine Mercy because of the effect His love and Mercy had upon me. May He be forever praised!

  • Stephaniemax

    This reading made me realize that Jesus has always given himself to those of us who are considered “not worthy”, the sinners yes, but also the outcasts. The Samaritan woman was used to being treated as less than equal but then Jesus, the messiah, spoke to her. She must have found this incredulous. He asked her for water but what he really said was “ I see you, I love you, you are not insignificant.” It is an interesting lesson. How many of us readily help the poor but judge the girl with the pierced eyebrows?

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Amen Stephanie

  • Patricia Bustamante

    I have to say that I am very happy to see that there is so much word on these forums and on this website. I too, like Father Bartunek, come from an Evangelical Christian background (the pentacostal church). I was brought up in it and they would always tell us that Catholics were not Christian. This is such a misconception! The way this verse was explained and taught is amazing! I truly believe we are in the part of the “end times” where Jesus Christ is preparing His Church for the rapture! This article proves it! Christians will not be of any one denomination! They will be from all and any denominations that lift up the name of Jesus Christ Messiah and love and read His Word! I am convinced. I have been attending the Catholic Church for some years now and I must say that I am blessed here and love it with all my heart. Praise God for pastors in every church and denomination and in the Holy Catholic Church that “rightly divide the Word of Truth!” 🙂

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