Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily, March 27, 2011, The Woman at the Well; Fr. Kennneth Hughes, SJ


St. Mary of the Angels 3/27/11

Sunday, Lent III A

Exodus: 17:3-7; Romans: 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

Jesus is tired. I am sure that Jesus was tired many times. He sounded tired when He was pretty snippy with the Canaanite woman who begged a cure for her daughter. And He must have been tired climbing Calvary, so tired that He kept falling. But, it is only here at the well that any of the Gospel writers actually mentions that Jesus is tired.

He must have been tired from the journey and the heat.

Maybe, He was tired of his disciples and all their bickering.

Is He tired because of all the demands for cures by the multitudes?

Perhaps, He might be tired because He knows where the journey is going.


A woman arrives. She is tired too.

She is tired of waiting half the day to get to the well.

Tired of carrying a heavy jar under the hot noonday sun.

She is tired of rejection, tired of hurtful relationships, tired of broken promises.


And both are thirsty.


Jesus thirsts for water to drink, to cool his brow, to wash his hands.

He thirsts for understanding, thirsts for a soul friend, thirsts for a woman’s tenderness. He thirsts for the hearts of his people.


The woman thirsts for water too.

She also thirsts for love and wholeness, and for acceptance.

She thirsts for the truth of belief. Where is she supposed to meet God: at Sychar or Jerusalem? She asks. Little does she know that she is meeting God right now.

Mutual tiredness and mutual thirst draw them together at this well. They have need for one another. He is living water but has no jar to hold it. She has the jar, but no living water.

How much tiredness and thirst in our world today!

Japan is like this woman, broken, tired, and humbled, seeking pure water to drink. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, all dry, desert countries thirsting for the living water of justice, food on the table, freedom, democracy.

Is there not a tiredness in us too, -- of war and fear of yet another interminable involvement? Do we not thirst for stability and peace?


When I ride the "T" I see many tired faces. And I wonder what is going on in each mind and what is stirring in each heart? I am sure that many are tired from a long day’s work. I am sure that some are tired of dehumanizing work. I suspect that many are thirsting for meaning in their life, thirsting for a vision to live by, thirsting for God, thirsting for a spiritual home. But, where can they find it?


The woman of our Gospel puts her finger on the problem. "Sir," she says to Jesus, "You have no bucket and the well is deep." How can the living water of Jesus flow out to all the people needing it in the wider neighborhood, if there is no bucket, no jar, to bring it to those people? Jesus was too tired to go to the community. The community was not aware of this stranger’s presence, nor who He was. But, as she came to know Jesus, this woman became a living jar to bear the living water. She no longer needed her own jar and could leave it behind.


Isn’t it amazing that this woman, who was rejected by her neighbors, could now walk into their midst and talk to them. Isn’t it amazing that these same people actually listen to her and are excited enough to come to Jesus and discover the Messiah for themselves and so, believe!


How did this happen? How did she make it happen? The answer must be that, in her encounter with the living water, she so became living water that she actually became what Jesus had promised: "The water I shall give will become in him/her a spring of water welling up to eternal life." She became that spring of life for her people.


We have to ask ourselves: what kind of water are we for tired and thirsty people? Ordinary water or living water? Does our encounter with Jesus here at the well of the altar each Sunday transform us in the same way that this woman was transformed? Are we really encountering Jesus at this well, or has this become our Sunday routine? Does our faith in Jesus so enliven us that we want to share it enthusiastically and joyfully, as she did? I know and firmly believe that St. Mary of the Angels is a well of living water but the water somehow is still not flowing out deeply enough and far enough to draw others into new life and belief, into finding here a home, a home which was so affirmed in our prayer sharing last Wednesday night.


Isn’t it wonderful that, as we listen to this gospel story 2,000 years later, this nameless Samaritan woman is still a jar bringing the living water of Jesus into our life, into our home here at St. Mary’s! Jesus is here too. But, now Jesus says to us, what this woman had noted: "I have no bucket and the well is deep." He is really asking, "Who will bring my living water to my tired and thirsty people?" "Will you?"

And we have to ask ourselves: "If not me, if not us, then who will do it?"

And, as long ago at the well, Jesus patiently waits for a response, -- waits for our answer.


Kenneth J. Hughes, SJ

Brighton, MA 02135 3/27/11

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