A Messiah Walks into a Bar...
Well, that's what the well was, essentially, in the ancient world. A bar. A meeting place. "A watering hole", literally. A place where "everybody knows your name..." A place where everything and probably everyone was talked about. And in today's gospel, Jesus goes there.
The well was also similar to the bar scene of today because, so often, relationships were born there. Think about it. Moses met Zipporah at a well. Isaac met Rebecca at a well. Jacob met Rachel at a well. And Jesus meets a Samaritan woman... (don't lose the marriage theme here) at a well.
The number seven in biblical language and numerology stands for completion, or perfection. The Seventh Day is the Sabbath. The perfect day for rest and contemplation.... and for union with God.
This woman was thirsty; and aren't we all? We thirst for so much more than the bar scene, the water cooler gossip, the Friday night lights, sexual encounters without consequences, pay checks without a deeper purpose in life. "Everybody's working for the weekend" sang Loverboy, but what are we living for? What deep down are we truly thirsting for?
"In truth, we all thirst for the infinite: for an infinite freedom, for happiness without limits," wrote our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Where do we look? Can we really find it in the stagnant little pools of our own creation, or is it rather in the billows and breakers of the sea of love gushing from Him, the Source of Love at the heart of the world?
The real beauty of this gospel for me is not the thirsty soul but the thirsty Savior. Yes, Jesus is thirsty too. He longs for our hearts, our restless, ridiculous, clueless hearts. He waits for us. He waits behind bars (and sometimes in them), behind the latticework of the structures that we hide behind, in every place and space of every nook and cranny, He waits. Tenderly.
He knows us so well. He simply wants us to know ourselves too. And how deeply we are loved.