Third Sunday of Lent


By Tina Sibbald

The imagery of water, and of thirst, as it relates to our relationship with God, is powerful. Of course, no one understood that better than Jesus, as he used it to invite the Samaritan woman to find her way to God through Him. It is easy to miss Jesus’ true lesson when we become too focused on the cold hard facts of this woman’s life. We can let our piety enter in, and the lesson devolve into pronouncements on morality. It would be sad if we were that simplistic and narrow-minded. Put in perspective, it’s not like the woman had control over her circumstances. Women did not have the right of divorce, so it is not likely she chose a life that some would call promiscuous. We have no idea about the circumstances, likely beyond her control, which caused her to lose five husbands. Independence would not have been an option when being female precluded owning land and being able to provide for one’s self. Her dependence on an endless cycle of relationships must have been an uncertain and hopeless existence.

Jesus understood that when He offered her the living water that would forever end her thirst – His salvation. It seems pretty simple. Yet somehow human nature causes us to need it to be more complex than that. Jesus is telling us that when we try to find fulfillment in anything other than Him, it will, in and of itself, always fail to be completely satisfying. If you are an alcoholic, you can never get enough of the resulting feeling, so you drink more until you become physically dependent on it and it controls your life. The same applies to many dependencies on anything other than God: pornography, unhealthy relationships, and obsession with financial success, to name a few.

Any well you drink from will never be enough to quench your thirst and bring peace. It certainly adds another perspective to “giving up” something for Lent to solidify this lesson in our minds and hearts. Once we have had water from the well of salvation, it does not mean that life will always be perfect, but our quenched thirst will lend itself to a different perspective on the rest of what we do. To quote Emily Dickinson, Water is taught by thirst…Simple? Yes. Thanks be to God that it is.

Sunday’s Readings:

Exodus 17.3-7

Romans 5.1-2, 5-8

John 4.5-42