In today's Gospel, Jesus talks to a Samaritan about matters of life and death, concrete and abstract. It is odd for Jesus, a Jew, to be talking with a Samaritan in the first place, and the skeptical woman is quick to point this out. When Jesus says he can give her "living water," she asks if He is "greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” The conversation continues, and Jesus tells the woman that not only the Jews will recognize the Messiah and achieve Salvation, but the Samaritans, though they are not the Chosen People, will too. She sees Jesus as a prophet until He corrects her, announcing he is the Messiah. The disciples return, begging Jesus to eat, but He will not. He responds:
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Of course, the reaper in this case is the faithful group of Jesus' followers, while the sower is Jesus Himself. They can't live without each other. Jesus recognizes something humans do not: the real nourishment for mankind is the love and forgiveness He gives. The woman didn't need water from the well. She could die physically without the water on Earth, but with the living water of Jesus, she could live forever. As Jesus puts it:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus' plan to convert the Samaritans was put into action in this reading. Some of the Samaritans believed the woman when she told them she had seen the Messiah, but most didn't believe until they saw Jesus Himself. Although the most faithful of Jesus' followers, unlike these Samaritans, believed without seeing, this was a step of faith is good for the Samaritans. After they received water from the well, they would not rejoice just because their thirst was quenched; they would also cherish that they also had living water from Jesus.
This Lent, most of us will give up something to be closer to God, but sometimes we forget that we may also receive gifts from God. Jesus is happy that Christians are willing to give up something close to their hearts for Him, but He also wants them to take in the gifts He gives. Let's remember this Lenten season to use our extra time from what we sacrifice to accept the God's gifts of living water, eternal life.