homily – February 24

John 4:5-42

It’s all about water. Where would we be without it? Luckily in Canada we have an abundance of water. We can’t conceive of a situation of being without water. Here in Toronto we live on one of the great lakes, the inland seas. The Indian name for the Great Lakes was ‘the sweet water seas’. Right now the greatest sought after resource in the world is oil. Most of the conflicts going on in the world right now are around securing sources of oil. Some say the next great conflicts on the globe will be over water. For many people it will be a matter of survival. When you stop to think of it, we are paying more for bottled water than we are for a liter of gas.

But let’s back to the scripture. Imagine the anger and frustration of the Jewish people out in the arid desert following Moses to an unknown destination. In rage they ask Moses “Did you bring us out into this desert to die of thirst”? We know the end of the story. Moses struck the rock and there was water a plenty. Without this water they could never continue their journey. The water was a symbol of the sustaining presence and companionship of God on their journey.

In the gospel we find the thirsty Jesus standing by a deep well. He has no way of drawing up the water because He has no bucket. He needs someone else. So Jesus breaks two taboos: fraternizing with a Samaritan and a Samaritan woman at that. She was shocked by this encounter. “How is it that you a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria – for Jews did not share things in common with Samaritans.” Jesus is certainly thirsty, walking dusty roads on a dry hot day. But the water Jesus has in mind goes way beyond well water. “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” Those who drink of the well water will come back time and time again to be refreshed. Those who drink the water Jesus offers will never be thirsty again, He is the living water. His presence, His love, His healing, His life quenches all our thirsts.

I read this thought recently. In John’s gospel there are a few instances where we are faced with apparent impossibilities. At Cana they had no wine – when faced with feeding an enormous crowd they only had five loaves of bread and two fishes, at the end of a long night Peter, James and John caught no fish. Jesus is thirsty, the well is deep and He has no bucket. Apparent impossibilities. But water is turned into choice wine – thousands are fed and there is much left over – there is a catch of fish that threatens to break nets – and at the well Jesus quenches a woman’s thirst for truth and love and acceptance.

How often do we face ‘apparent impossibilities’ in our own lives? How can I cope with this problem, resolve this conflict, let go of this anger and resentment? How can I forget and forgive this wrong done to me, what am I going to do with a son or daughter who is messing up his/her life? How can I cope caring for an invalid mother or father who is cantankerous and unreasonable? How can I cope with my own failing health, my own aching bones? How will I ever get over the grief of losing someone I loved? How do I handle my own doubts of faith in God or the meaning of my own life? Apparent impossibilities. The well is deep, we have no bucket.

We thirst for love, for understanding, for faith, for solutions, for patience, for wisdom, for the ability to forgive, for healing, for the capacity to accept the fact that things are not going to change. The well is deep, we have no bucket. We too meet Jesus at these different wells. He offers each of us in all our apparent impossibilities the refreshing, life giving waters of His life and His love. He offers us the refreshing waters of courage and patience, of insight and understanding, He offers us the refreshing waters of healing and forgiveness, He offers us the refreshing waters to trust in His presence to us, to trust that He knows and understands our ‘apparent impossibilities’ and He will see us through them.