What a Difference the Spirit Makes
Lent Reflection - 3rd week of Lent
Father David Austin, St. Mary Parish, McHenry, Pastor
March 9, 2023
“Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul thirsts for you, O God.” 
—Psalm 42:1
A woman ventures out to get water for the day. She journeys apart from her fellow Jewish citizens, as she is not a Jew, and to be with them would create an “unholy” mess. She is probably alone, and lonely, even though she is living with a man. Her life presumably has been a never-ending series of tragedies and disappointments. She arrives at the well hot and tired. She is thirty, but her parched condition only reflects a much deeper metaphysical and spiritual thirst. 
Enter Jesus. A Jewish man. He is also thirsty. He asks the woman for a drink, thereby breaking down the religious and cultural barriers of Jew / Samaritan and man / woman. She is surprised at His asking, even shocked. 
Jesus doesn’t back down. And then, even more surprisingly, He becomes the giver; He invites the woman to taste something much more satisfying and lasting — “If you only knew the gift of God…,” He says (Jn 4:10).  
The woman recognizes that she is thirsting for something more. 
Five marriages. (Were any of them happy?) Religiously separated. Culturally ostracized. Constantly feeling like a second- or third-class citizen. Yes, she is thirsty! 
She thirsts for hope. She thirsts for joy. She thirsts for contentment. She thirsts for a more purposeful and meaningful life. She thirsts for all the things you and I thirst for, what every person has ever thirsted for. 
And now, in this present moment, with Jesus sitting near to her, she discovers “living water” that satisfies all her thirsts and longings. Jesus speaks words of revelation and invitation to her. She drinks up. She has already begun to drink of the Spirit, even if she cannot recognize it yet. She will. 
She leaves the well and Jesus, smiling, happy, giddy. She even leaves her jar there! Accidentally? 
What a difference the Spirit made for this woman! She has truly been satisfied. (Can we say the same?) And that well for her will never run dry. 


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