Readings for today: Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.”
In 2014, I spent two wonderful weeks in the Philippines on a mission trip with other students from Holy Cross. It was during my time in the Philippines that I really understood – and took for granted – how important water is to the human body.
The weather was incredibly humid and the heat was nagging away at me. I was a genius and brought an aluminum bottle with me, one that heat up instantly within 5 minutes of being under the sunlight. We were doing some manual labour under the hot sun: we were painting, demolishing, and moving heavy sand bags around. Despite my thirst I kept going at my tasks, until suddenly I found myself seeing double before the entire world went black.
I was the only one on my trip that had passed out from heat exhaustion and dehydration. I didn’t drink enough water and I didn’t take care of myself, and my body’s response to that was to shut down. Water, as I figured out the hard way, is vital to our survival.
The gospel today focuses on one of my favourite stories of all time: the story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well about living water.
Our bodies require water to function, and the feeling of thirst can be extended beyond that of water but also to our desires. We thirst for material goods and earthly riches. We continually down these cups of “water” so as to quench our thirst, and when our thirst returns, we look for other things to quench it again.
But the thing is that our thirst for material things will never be filled, and there will always be something more to be desired. I think constantly about those ads on TV that ask what you will buy if you win the lottery. But even with the grand prize of however many million dollars, you will still be running, grasping, for something more once your pleasure runs out.
Attached to the desire for material things comes the desire to be accepted, for purpose, and to be loved. The two are tightly woven together and are built into our human nature. We tend to seek the things that will help to increase our self-esteem and self-worth, whether it be material goods, busying ourselves with activities or relationships.
I identify whole-heartedly with the Samaritan woman who comes again and again to draw water from the well. The well is deep, and the well is our constant thirst for the things that are not of Him. But with God, we are provided with an eternal source of happiness and love, one that He gives to us freely.
Recently I have found myself thirsting more and more for Christ and putting Him at the center of my decisions, especially those surrounding my vocation and discerning what God wants for me. It has been a constant struggle between doing what I want and doing what He wants, and it has become clear to me when I do the things that are of God, and when I do things out of my own selfishness.
The thirst to be loved and desired, to be successful and noticed – all of these desires are very real desires in all of our hearts. But our hearts will always be restless until it rests in God (St. Augustine). Seek the Lord with all your heart, bring your hopes and dreams to Him, and He will never let you down.
We are all the Samaritan woman, searching for purpose in our brokenness. God is always waiting for us to come back to Him and to put our trust in Him, regardless of how far we have strayed off the path from Him. His love runs deeper than any well or ocean, and He is the source of true love and happiness.
St. Joseph, pray for us!