After more than five years of draught, California has been desperate for precipitation. Finally, this winter it received significant amount of rain, which is a huge relief.
The condition of the arid desert of Sinai is grueling: scorching and unrelenting sun during the day with no signs of greens anywhere, and icy cold and shivering dampness at night. It is no wonder that those Israelites complained to Moses and longed for the bygone days in Egypt even it meant the shame and toil of enslavement. The choice was quite stark: between the rock and the hard places.
Desperation and hopelessness is found not only in deserts but also in the seemingly placid lives of many people. When coupled with chronic depression, the result can be deadly.
The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is a gradual process of overcoming hopelessness and discovering a new possibility. Perhaps the woman was in such a social condition that she had to go to the well under the scorching midday sun so as to avoid the shame of ostracism and gossips of villagers.
The story develops like peeling an onion as her understanding makes gradual leaps. She only expected to get stagnant cistern water, but Jesus promised living water, in fact, “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus has a propensity to far exceed our expectations as in the case with the Samaritan woman. St. Paul describes it in an astounding passage today: “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).” It is the very person of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, like living water.
That is the tremendous reality of our ‘spiritual life’: the living and real presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Still, it takes a gradual awakening for us to understand and accept this reality. Through the conversation with Jesus the Samaritan woman’s understanding grows in crescendo. So will each of us grow spiritually through the encouragement and prompting of the significant others in our lives. The Holy Spirit enters into our lives in subtle, sometimes unexpected ways.
We pray for those who are preparing the Easter Sacraments. Together may we all grow as an intimate family of Christ!
Yours truly in Christ,
Fr. Paul D. Lee