Carry Living Water
#CarryLivingWater is the podcast for March 15, 2020. There is a whole lot going on with the woman at the well and Jesus. One thing, it is not is ‘all wet.’ Listen here FREE and find out more: Download it into your phone. #John4 #Water #LivintWater #Samaritans #Gerizim #Jerusalem #Disciples #Women #Outcast
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for March 15, 2020, the Third Sunday of Lent.
Please pause this audio and read John 4:5-42.
[Our parish has within it some very virtuous and outstanding young men. I am always pleasantly amazed by this. Among them, David Giordano is a very talented minister. His preaching skills are very good and his insight can be exemplary. This was no different this past Thursday. Thursdays is the day we have 7 am Mass followed by Bible study with coffee in the fellowship hall.]
This past Thursday at the Bible study, as we were studying this passage on living water,[, one of our interns,] David made reference to the contamination of the water in New Paltz[, NY]. I looked befuddled. David remembered that I was in Germany at that time and began to explain to me that there were reports that the water in New Paltz tasted bad. [As you know,] there was a stop use order, potable trucks were brought in for people to get drinkable water, water stations were set up. Students at [the State University of New York at New Paltz/SUNY, New Paltz] were sent home for a week, classes were cancelled.
David said, “It was a mess. Except, we in the church were exempt because we have a well…” His voice trailed off and then he got a big smile on his face and said, “That’ll preach!” Yes, it will preach and here is how.
The prophet Jeremiah was instructed to deliver these words from God as told in Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Here, we see that God calls himself the fountain of living water that his people reject. In the Old testament over and over (Sirach 24 and Isaiah 55 are the best examples) water is the symbolic language used for wisdom. So, we need to keep these thoughts in the background of any discussion of water and living water.
Next, we need to remember that the Gospel of John is a literary work. It uses subtlety, allegory, poetry, chiasmic structure to tell the general story about Jesus. It was John who said that all that Jesus had done could not be contained in one book, but he has given us a taste to know the Messiah, the living God. Yet, he opens his Gospel way before the birth of the God-man. He opens this Gospel with the second person of the Trinity. He says, and you could probably repeat it with me, “In the beginning was the (seek them to answer)…Word.” And he says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” The word used here in Greek is “Logos” or “reasoning, logic”. The Word is the Divine reasoning of the universe. In other words, He is the Wisdom of the Ages. All things were made through him and for him, John says at the beginning of this book. Here we have Jesus shown to be wisdom, in the Old Testament, wisdom is represented by water. Jeremiah says that God calls himself the source of “Living Water.” Jesus, then, according to John, says that he can give living water. One of the things here that is being shown to the community of the faithful is that Jesus is God. He is the source of Living Water because he is God.
John uses a play on words in the scene between the woman at the well and Jesus. She uses the word “Kyrie” to address Jesus in verses 11 and 20. It is a word that can mean “sir” or “Lord.” It is clear that as she is addressing him early in the story, “Sir, you have nothing with which to draw water…” but as she comes to understand who it is that that is saying “Give me a drink,’ she does indeed come to ask him for that living water. He reveals himself to be more than just a “sir” and she understands. That is when she says that he must be a prophet and addresses him as what I would translate as “Lord, I perceive that you are a prophet.”
If you recall, Jesus tells her she has had five ‘husbands’. Here, John again uses a play on words because the Hebrew word for “husband” sounds a lot like the word “Ba-al” or false god. Here, John is playing off of what John the Baptist said in the previous section of this Gospel. John had just been asked if he were the Christ. He responds, “I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom;” The woman who has had five false husbands is speaking with the bridegroom of the Church, the husband of the church. The woman whose people were accused of mixing Judaism with reverence of false ‘ba-als’ is speaking with the husband of the Church, his bride, the Logos, the Way, the Truth, the Light, the source of living water.
So, the woman, who is an outcast, who hides her sin, who is part of a group of people accused of following God in their own way, insisting of worship on their own mountain, encounters God at the well and he offers her living water. He encounters her with truth, but not judgment. He convicts her of her sin, but then offers her eternal life. Where is the condemnation we anticipate from God? Where is the damnation preached by many? Where is the straw man character of God set up by those who want to just knock down Christianity as false? It is not there. Instead, there, at the well, is the Messiah. He is the Messiah who is the source of living water, in other words the Messiah is a man who is God.
Like the woman at the well, there are too many lovers in our lives that distract us from God. There are career paths we pursue that take the place of God. There are material pursuits that take the place of God. There are ways of thinking that take us away from God. There are desires of the heart that move us toward something else. As David [the intern] said about the water crisis, there are too many places that we seek water that are unreliable. There are too many places where the water can be tainted, contaminated, and made unsafe for us to drink and be satisfied. There is only one Husband, one Lover, one Well from which we draw living water that satisfies.
The disciples who come back and find Jesus talking to “a woman” miss the idea of living water totally. They want him to eat and they say, “does he have food?” They cannot get beyond that which they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. They are stuck in this world and cannot see the greater purpose. They are still seeking after earthly water.
It is the woman who understands the living water more than she knows. She goes and gives living water to those around her. She tells the people of her village in remarkable fashion, “I have met the one for whom we have been waiting, the Messiah.” As Jesus labors and wants the disciples to harvest, it is the woman who is harvesting. She has been touched by Jesus, the Messiah, who gives her living water she never anticipated that day when she went to the well to be satisfied.
After she was satisfied by living water, she went and gathered others to be satisfied. They were satisfied and invited Jesus to stay with them and he did for two more days. After the woman harvested with living water in her community the people said, “we believe, for we have heard for ourselves.” In John 7, beginning in verse 37, John interprets this living water, he says:
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive;
You know, as [our friend] David pointed out, there are many places that people can receive water that they think is living water. Memes on facebook with nice pictures and quipy quips. Self-help gurus that tell people to believe in themselves, in other words, if you just try harder. Spiritualists, fortune tellers, and soothsayers who tell them some vague future that will come to them. There are those who dabble in witchcraft and mediums like Ouija boards. There are those who put trust in themselves and themselves alone. Yet, for those of us like the woman at the well who have encountered Jesus, we know that these are just kerosene contaminated water sources like the New Paltz, NY water supply last February.
There is only one source for safe water supply and that is in the church that has its own well-the well of the Holy Spirit that enlivens us and sends us out. How many of us have been responding more like the disciples than the Samaritan woman? How many people have we gone and told what Jesus has done for us? Have we let our careers get in the way? Have we let the cultural conventions of society keep us from asking someone who is ‘not the kind of person we find in church?’ To that one I say, “not until you invite them.” Have you let your mistakes keep you from inviting someone to know Christ? The Samaritan woman was a five time married four time divorced community outcast and she witnessed her faith that Jesus IS the Messiah to her community. What is your excuse? Please don’t bring it here.
My encounter with Jesus Christ took a lost, angry, wounded teen boy and made him the Dean of the Cathedral, twice seminary educated, etc. etc. because he gave me love divine, love on purpose, love with a purpose and love for a purpose. How many people do you know who could stand to meet Christ and have him give his purposeful love? If they ask you why you are ‘trying to push your religion on’ them, the answer is, “I am not. I met the Messiah and he changed my life. I just want you to have the same joy of knowing him like I do. Come and see.”
s David [the intern] point out, [this/church] is the place that has the only good well in town, Jesus Christ, the source of living water that loves with a purpose and leads to salvation. Who is in your village to whom you are going to run? Who will you let know you have met the source of living water and HE is a very good well? When are you going to tell them? How are you going to tell them? Make your plan and go deliver the living water. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2020.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian