By Jim Fair
Water both meets the needs of the body and is a symbol of divine grace. Pope Francis explained these realities in his commentary before the Angelus on March 15, 2020.
Due to concerns about the coronavirus, the Holy Father was not in his widow high above St. Peter’s Square but spoke from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.
“The evangelical passage of this Third Sunday of Lent presents Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman (Cf. John 4:5-42). He is on the road with His disciples and they stop near a well in Samaria,” Pope Francis explained. “The Samaritans were considered heretics by the Jews and very scorned, as second-class citizens.”
Jesus had experienced a long day of travel. He was tired and thirsty. So despite the woman at the well being a Samaritan, the Lord asked her for a drink of water.
“So, breaking every barrier, He begins a dialogue in which He reveals to that woman the mystery of the living water, namely of the Holy Spirit, gift of God. In fact, to the woman’s reaction of surprise, Jesus responds: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (v. 10).
“Water is at the center of this dialogue. On one hand, water as an essential element to live, which slakes the body’s thirst and sustains life. On the other, water is a symbol of divine grace, which gives eternal life. In biblical tradition God is the source of living water — it’s said thus in the Psalms, in the prophets –: to estrange oneself from God, source of living water, and from His Law, entails worst thirst. It’s the experience of the people of Israel in the desert. In the long road to freedom, they, burning with thirst, protest against Moses and against God because there is no water. Then, by the Will of God, Moses makes water spring from a rock, as sign of the Providence of God, who accompanies His people and gives them life (Cf. Exodus 17:1-7).”
The Holy Father explained that the promise of living water that Christ made to the Samaritan woman became reality. As he was on the cross his body was pierced and blood and water spew forth.
“Christ, immolated and resurrected Lamb, is the source from which the springs the Holy Spirit, who remits sins and regenerates to new life,” the Pope said. “This gift is also the source of witness. Like the Samaritan woman, whoever encounters Jesus alive feels the need to tell others… ee too, generated to new life through Baptism, are called to witness the life and hope that are in us.”
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