The Living Water
Third Sunday of Lent
Presence of God– O Jesus, my soul thirsts for You, the source of living water; grant that I may draw near You and drink!
Jesus stated on several occasions that He was the fountain of living water for all who believed in Him and He invited souls to draw near this spring because, as He said to the Samaritan woman, “He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever” (John 4:13). The most solemn invitation to drink from this fountain, however, was given by Jesus, during the last year of His ministry, to the crowd which thronged the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. Standing erect in the midst of the crowd, He said in a loud voice: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth in Me … within him shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The thirst of which Jesus was speaking is the thirst for truth, for justice, the thirst for peace and true happiness, and above all the thirst for God, the keen, ardent desire for Him. The soul who has tried to drink at the spring of earthly delights has found that they do not serve to quench its thirst; instead, if they have given the soul a tiny drop of truth, justice, peace, and joy, they have left it more thirsty than before. Only then does the soul understand that God alone is the fountain which can quench its thirst. But what is this water of which Jesus declares that He is the source and which He promises to all? It is the life-giving water of grace, the only water capable of quenching our thirst for the infinite, because, by making us sharers in the divine nature, it permits us to enter into intimate relations with God; it permits us to live with the Trinity dwelling in our soul; in a word, it opens the door to divine intimacy.
St. John Chrysostom teaches: “When the grace of the Holy Spirit enters a soul and is established there, it gushes forth more powerfully than any other spring; it neither ceases, dries up, nor is exhausted. And the Savior, to signify this inexhaustible gift of grace, calls it a spring and a torrent; He also calls it gushing water, to indicate its force and impetus.” The power of grace is so great that it can cast the soul into God and bring it to divine intimacy and union, first in this life, by faith and love, and then in heaven, by the Beatific Vision.
“O Truth, light of my soul, do not permit the darkness to frighten me. You have allowed me to walk in it, and now I am in obscurity. But even from the darkness, yes, even from there, I have loved You. I have sinned, and I have remembered You. I have heard Your voice behind me, inviting me to come back; I heard it with difficulty because of the noise of my rebellious passions. Here I am again at Your spring, burning with thirst. Let nothing hold me back henceforth! Let me drink at Your spring, and live ….
“‘As the heart pants after the fountain, so does my soul sigh for You, Lord! My soul thirsts for You, O God, the living source; when shall I go to appear in Your presence?’ O fount of life, vein of living water, when shall I reach the waters of Your sweetness in this desert land, dry and full of rocks, and see Your power and glory, and quench my thirst with the waters of Your mercy? I thirst, O Lord, I thirst for You, living fountain.
“O fire that ever burns and is never consumed, enkindle me! O Light that shineth ever and is never veiled, illumine me! Oh! if I could only burn with Your flame, O sacred fire! How gently You burn; how secretly You shine; how wonderful it is to be enkindled by You! Woe to those who do not burn with Your love! Woe to those who are not illumined by You, O true Light that enlighteneth every man, O Light that filleth the world with Your brightness!
“I give You thanks, who illumine me and deliver me, for You have enlightened me and I have known You. Late have I known You, O ancient Truth; late have I known You, O eternal Truth! You were in the light and I was in darkness, and I did not know You, for I had no light without You, and without You, there is no light!” (St. Augustine).
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Art: Thirst, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1886; Mortally Wounded Brigand Quenches His Thirst, Eugène Delacroix, circa 1825; both PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.