Over the next three weekends ,we will read from the Gospel of John. The stories we will hear are the Woman at the Well, the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus. They are long gospels, which demand our atten- tion. But I hope that they will also capture our imagination sufficiently to enable each of us to grasp the essential message which they proclaim. They matter because in the characters of the protagonists who encounter Jesus, we find people just like ourselves. People who are searching for meaning and purpose. We can see in them simple, ordinary people, ie you and me and we can take consolation from their experience. These three great set pieces in John’s gospel, with their symbols of living water, new sight and re-birth, have been used in the Church since the very earliest of times, as sign posts towards baptism, and so, as we continue on our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us use them to help us reflect on our own baptismal faith.
We never know when the moment will arrive. We never know how the encounter will happen, and when it does, it is never as we may have an- ticipated. The spark that ignites our questioning and searching for God can happen in the most unexpected of situations. There is no doubt that this woman in the gospel could never have imagined that as she went about the daily task of going to the well to get the water required for the daily needs of herself and her family, she would make those first tentative steps to faith. And so it is with us. A simple encounter at the coffee/tea
point at work may indeed become the launch pad for something much more profound. There is though no spectacular revelation, no immediate conversion. In fact the woman at first is rather rude and dismissive to Jesus, but something has stirred within her and caused her to stop and to think.
How often this happens to us. We too can be dismissive. On the face of it we think that we are ok, and that we can get on perfectly well without having to bother with religion or faith. But on closer inspection we realise that our lives are chaotic, a messy compromise of broken relationships which have caused pain and hurt and have left their scars. We all need healing and wholeness and Jesus never dismisses us or turns us away. He knows that life is hard and he wants to offer us a pathway which calls us back without harshness or blame. Frequently we put the decision off and leave it for some indeterminate time in the future. We try to convince ourselves that the circumstances are not quite right, we’ve got other things on our minds. Jesus wants us to realise that the time for our deci- sion is now and not in the future. So the woman comes to faith and actu- ally evangelises the townsfolk of where she lives.
It is through our baptism that we have been given the grace of living water. Let us use this living water to re-fresh our own commitment to do the will of the one who has sent us out to proclaim his gospel of love.