March 15, 2020 (Sunday) - Lonely, Empty People - A Reflection on John 4:5-42

So (Jesus) came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

Today’s passage is relevant to all of us because we are so much like the woman in this story. She was a very lonely, empty woman. She tried to fill the emptiness with men. She got married to one man. He filled her for a bit, but then she grew empty again, so she dumped him and went to the next. And the next. And the next. Five husbands later, she was now with a sixth man hoping he would do the trick, but you know what? He wouldn’t be able to fill her beyond a point either.

Most of us feel very lonely and empty too. We feel as though there is this great vacuum in our lives and it feels terrible. There is this hole in every one of us. And because we can’t bear the hollow feeling, we try to fill it with the things of this world: with sex, with alcohol, with drugs, with nicotine, with shopping, with food, with any number of things. But none, as I am sure you would agree, fills us. That is because the hole is a God-sized hole and the only thing that can fill a God-sized hole is God.

So, why do we have a God-sized hole? St. Augustine might have the answer. He once said, “Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in God”. And the reason for this, he explains, is that God has made us for himself. Consequently, nothing will ever fill us until we fill ourselves with God. As Jesus told the woman in today’s story: “The water you drink will only leave you thirsty again, but the water — the living water — I give you will become a spring leading to eternal life.”

The prophet Jeremiah put it even more bluntly. Speaking for God, he said: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Imagine drinking dirty water from a broken vessel, frantically trying to satisfy our thirst, when we have an entire spring of life-giving water available to us.

And what is this living water? It is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him (would) receive.” (John 7:38-39). All of us who are baptized in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit. If he isn’t flowing freely, it is because we are forsaking Jesus for the things of the world. Seek Jesus earnestly and see how powerfully it flows.

Here is a song I wrote a couple of years ago. I am not a singer, but I was inspired to do this. I hope you like it :)