The jury took only three hours. This concerns the widely-followed case of Alex Murdaugh, the famous lawyer of a prominent family, who was convicted of murdering his son and his wife. It was the kind of case that we American seem to love—a mystery with a variety of possible motives that keep our minds churning. Was he guilty? Why did he do it? “I knew it all along.” Sure enough, another case will be making us before too long.
Which brings us to the Gospel today. Aren’t we suspicious of the Samaritan woman? The story starts with this outsider making her way to the well at noon, long after all the other women have gotten their water. She’s obviously isolated and being spurned by her neighbors. When it comes out later that she had five husbands and her situation is still awkward, our judgments start to conclude things about her. The woman wonders why Jesus talks to her. There’s a part of us that wonders that too.
The scriptures are using this woman to ask us a direct question: what is it that we thirst for? And where will our thirst be quenched? We were amazed after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria that several people were found alive many days later. How could they last? Isn’t it impossible to last that long without water?
Indeed, it is impossible to live without water. The acres of plastic water bottles in our dump sites show how much we thirst. And it is precisely here that Jesus wants to insert himself in the readings this week. Jesus wants to quench our thirst with the water that we truly need. “The water I shall give will become a spring welling up to eternal life.” Only the water that Jesus gives can completely take away our deepest thirst.
Thirst is a need; but thirst is also an emptiness. Take a very cold glass of water on a very hot day: we feel it in our whole body, as if some total craving were being touched. Jesus wants to fill our emptiness with his very life, a life that always points to the Father, a life that always surges with the Holy Spirit. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,” St. Paul tells us. A love the swells, fills, and overflows. This is the love we are invited to receive, the love that Jesus’ offers, a love that fills our needs and emptiness.
Throughout the Church many are preparing for baptism, the same sacrament most of us have already received. The Church invites us to look upon the longing for faith and community in the hearts of these people preparing for baptism so that we can revive our own experience of baptism. For when the baptismal waters came over us, at whatever age that was, God’s love began to flow in a way that fills our lives with grace, holiness, and ongoing conversion. In a sense, we have to renew our baptisms every single day by committing ourselves to the love of Jesus.
Of course, for us believers, the waters that quench our thirst lead to the Wine that is Christ’s Blood taken into ourselves every time we come to worship. “Take this, all of you, and drink.” In case we ever wondered what our baptisms meant we have the Mass to remind us again and again.
Will we drink Christ’s water? Will we drink Christ’s Blood? Will we make Christ’s life our own? Only when we do that will the deepest thirsts of our hearts be satisfied.
For reflection: How have the Waters of Christ touched me?