Reflection by Stephen Talbutt 3rd Sunday Lent Year A

I think there is something in all of us that likes a good grumble, we are never happy unless there’s something to grumble about, the Israelites are no exception!  In today’s first reading they are complaining to Moses because they don’t have enough to drink and are thirsty. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it so that I should die of thirst, my children too, and my cattle?’  I do feel sorry for Moses, here he is having recued his people out of slavery and all they do is complain to him, later on in the book of Numbers they will even complain about the divine bread (manna) that appears every morning for them to eat, they say “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

So what does Moses do? Of course he turns to God and prays ‘How am I to deal with this people?” he said. ‘A little more and they will stone me!’ and in turn what does God do? He does what he always does, God provides, he makes water flow out of a rock for his people to drink.  There is definitely a watery theme running through todays readings. We see another request for water in todays Gospel, the one asking for water this time is Jesus, he is sat by a well in Samaria when a woman from a nearby village walks over to the well to get some water, Jesus says to her, ‘Give me a drink.’  This seems quite a reasonable request but we have to remember that at that time, Jews (Jesus) didn’t mix with the Samaritans (the woman at the well)they were considered enemies. The Samaritan woman was shocked and replied to him, ‘What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?’, but Jesus was just using this request for water to start a conversation.  He now says something very strange, ’if you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you: Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.’  Now I’m guessing that the woman must be thinking ‘I wonder if this fellow has got sunstroke? Talking about living water??’ But Jesus then tells her‘whoever drinks this water [from the well] will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.  The water Jesus is talking about is the Holy Spirit, I think it’s a good way of picturing the Holy Spirit as a stream of fast running water that will never run out, always there to refresh us, clean us and satisfy our spiritual thirst.  God provides, He provided for the Israelites and he will provide for us, all we need to do is turn to Him and ask.  At the end of the Gospel we see that the women then becomes a believer and not just her, her entire village come to believe as well, they say “we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world”