Third Sunday of Lent

The Water of Life Sculpture: a bronze fountain of a woman giving Jesus water

Daily Offering

Dear Lord, I really don’t feel like praying today; but I’ll give it a go.   Nick King SJ

Entering into prayer

Choose a method of entering into prayer that you are comfortable with, or if the mood takes you, try something different. If you’re finding it difficult, talk to God about the things on your mind. 

Today's Scripture  (John 4: 5-42 [abridged] - Alternative Gospel)
Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar. Jacob’s well is there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’.

The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘What? You are a Jew, and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’– Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you: Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.’ ‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered, ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water?’ Jesus replied: ‘Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside them, welling up to eternal life.’ ‘Sir,’ said the woman, ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.’ ‘Go and call your husband,’ said Jesus to her. The woman answered, ‘I have no husband’. He said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”; for although you have had five, the one you have now is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’ ‘I see you are a prophet, sir,’ said the woman. ‘… I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.’ ‘I who am speaking to you,’ said Jesus, ‘I am he.’

At this point the disciples returned, and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman. The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people, ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?’

Many Samaritans of that town believed in Jesus on the strength of the woman’s testimony; and they begged him to stay with them. When he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, ‘Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.’

Food for Thought

Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman. Samaritans were Jews who interbred with foreigners brought by the Assyrian conquerors in 722BC to settle the land with loyal inhabitants. Jews considered Samaritans and their possessions ritually unclean. Jacob’s well still exists. It is not, as were many other wells, a cistern filled with collected rain water that became stale and polluted in hot weather. It is fed by underground springs, so the water remains fresh and cool. People called the water from this well ‘living water’. As well as the literal meaning of this phrase, it is an Old Testament expression meaning ‘divine revelation’ or vitality. In St John’s Gospel, it indicates the Holy Spirit. Most women would collect water in the cool early morning, but Jesus and the woman meet in the midday heat. The woman may have avoided the earlier time, feeling ostracised because of her past. Jesus ignores traditional social barriers where men spoke directly in a public place only to women who were blood relatives. Jesus counteracts societal divisions: gender discrimination, ritual purity, religious hostility, the moral stigma attached to many marriages. Jesus’s gift of life is open to everyone.

Suggestions for prayer

As I begin my prayer, I try to become still and quiet in the presence of God. I take all the time I need; God welcomes me in love just as I am – there is no need to rush. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me.
I read the Gospel passage again slowly, perhaps several times, noticing the details of the encounter between the woman and Jesus. Perhaps I try to imagine myself sitting by the well in the quiet noontide heat that surrounds the weary, thirsty Jesus, and the Samaritan woman with her empty water jar. I hear their words, notice their tone of voice. I see how Jesus wins her trust and awakens her thirst for another kind of water.
What does living water mean for me? I let Jesus look at me and speak with me. I allow myself to be surprised that Jesus asks me for something to satisfy his thirst.What can I offer? What would I like Jesus to offer me in my tiredness, in my seeking; for what am I thirsting …? I speak with Jesus. I wait before him, trusting that he knows my deepest needs.After a while, I end my time of prayer by thanking the Lord for his presence with me.

How are you going to respond today?

The woman is surprised by her encounter with Jesus, and the town dwellers come to believe in Jesus on the strength of the woman’s testimony.Today may be a day to notice how God becomes present to me in my daily life in surprising, unexpected ways. How might I be able to share this Good News with others who are thirsty and searching for meaning in their lives?

Image for the day
The Water of Life Sculpture: a bronze fountain of a woman giving Jesus water
  • How does this image make you feel?

  • Spend some time conversing with Jesus today.

Examen (Review of Prayer)

When you come towards the end of your time of prayer, or at the end of your day, talk to God about what has come up for you, what went well and what didn’t.

Going Deeper

The Woman at the Well

Read a reflection about discernment

This Sunday's Readings