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2014 The Third Sunday of Lent

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL

This gospel, about the Samaritan woman, is exceptionally rich. Every time we read it we are passionately moved by that intense conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, recalling the great teaching of St. Augustine, with Christ’s request to the woman, "give me something to drink", said: "Yes, God thirsts for our faith and our love. As a good and merciful father, he wants our total, possible good, this good is he himself. The Samaritan woman, on the other hand, represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what is being sought. She had "five husbands" and now she lives with another man; her going to and from the well to draw water expresses a repetitive and resigned life. However, everything changes for her that day, thanks to the conversation with the Lord Jesus…………." (Benedict XVI, Angelus 24 February 2008).

To recognize that if we entrust ourselves to God, we receive every "possible good" which, as the Pope reminds us, is God himself, means living the dynamic conversion to God: renouncing a self-centred mentality, which deceives self-sufficient humankind, in order to receive the gift of God. People without God are inevitably destined to dissatisfaction, limited in everything by their own limits as creatures, even in "giving themselves" or "obtaining for themselves" joy, love, happiness… People without God cannot think to reach boundless joy, unlimited and eternal love, the living water of which, precisely, Jesus speaks with the Samaritan woman.

Happiness, another word for living water, can only be given by the One who possesses it, and humanity does not possess it. God alone can share it with those who place their trust in Him and follow Him

The living water, the gift of the Holy Spirit, can only be given by the Lord Jesus whom the Father sent into the world to give all men and women eternal life, that is, never ending happiness. As the Pope reminds us "only the water that Jesus offers, the living water of the Spirit, can quench" man’s "thirst for infinite" (Benedict XVI, homily 24 February 2008). We are able to give our fellow humans affection, money, power, human glory, honor, career … but not endless happiness which, since it is an unlimited good, belongs to the divine, infinite sphere!

The living water flows only from the divine source. The Samaritan woman went to a well which was deep, but limited, whereas unlimited was her thirst for happiness and love. The woman, the Holy Father tells us, "represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what one seeks". How often does humanity seek the infinite, the eternal, well-being… but sadly continues to seek it in a well, in a reality, the earthly reality, which is unable to contain it. How many wells, deep but empty, how many wells of stagnant water, have met on our way! We carry within us immense desires and easily deceive ourselves that we can meet them.

On our path of conversion, what a great grace it is to find the Lord Jesus waiting patiently for us beside our senseless wells. When, like the Samaritan woman, we are tired of the things of this world, of almost empty wells, then the Divine Master is especially close to us. He asks us to give him something to drink, he asks us to trust Him to satiate our heart and if we trust in Him we discover the joy of finding the true well, the source of crystal clear water.

Then, as if in a dream, as it was for the Samaritan woman, everything which before was important, no longer counts, true reality is something else, it become the Man-God who begs to give Himself! The secret of happiness is to invert the process of selfishness: to forget self in order to make room for Another Person, the Lord of life and happiness. Give up self and find God! If I renounce sin, I find grace, if I renounce myself, I find God and my brothers and sisters. "If you only knew what God is offering," happiness is what He wants to give you! If you knew what gift of Life, you would throw yourself into that well and there you would find the strength to renounce self.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with wisdom typical of saints, explained why we should give ourselves to God: Why should we give ourselves completely to God? Because God has given Himself to us. If God who owes us nothing is ready to give us nothing less than Himself, can we respond with only a small part of ourselves? Giving ourselves totally to God is a way of receiving God. I am for God and God is for me. I live for God and renounce myself, in this way I allow God to live for me. To possess God we must allow Him to possess our souls. (Blessed Teresa di Calcutta).

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