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March 1981

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4, 13-14)

In St. John’s gospel there is a story which it is difficult to define in words, and this is true of many incidents in the life of Jesus. Reading this passage you feel the presence of one who does not come from this world: he is a prophet and he knows the inmost being of man. He is the Messiah and he speaks of salvation. He promises a water which comes from heaven and is 'the gift of God'.

It was midday in Samaria when Jesus arrived at a town called Sichar, as he was weary from his journey he sat down by a well. A woman came up to draw water, and Jesus asked her, 'Give me a drink'. But since the Jews were not on good terms with the Samaritans, the woman expressed her amazement at this request. To which Jesus replied: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

The woman at once pointed out that he had no bucket with which to draw water and he certainly was not a greater man than Jacob who had dug the well. It is at this point that Jesus speaks the following words in order to explain his thoughts:

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

As you can see, Jesus did not dwell upon the material sense of the word 'water' but used the word in order to talk to the Samaritan woman, and so to all those who would get to know his words, about a higher reality which is invisible and divine. The living water, meaning water from a spring, which Jesus speaks of, becomes a symbol of that gift which by his coming he has brought to men, and so indeed, to us and also to you.

And since the and conditions in many parts of Palestine or the Near East and its surrounding deserts, make water all the more precious because it brings life, and quenches the thirst of men, so the gift of Jesus generates supernatural Life in you and quenches your profound thirst. Water in its natural form could never satisfy you for ever; it is only the water of Jesus which can give you fullness.

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst, the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Since the gift which Jesus communicates to you satisfies you, you need no longer seek elsewhere the purpose of your life, your happiness, you have found it in Jesus.

And Jesus does not give you a certain quantity of this water, which you must provide each day. The living water in you, who receive it, becomes a spring, a power which acts in your inmost being and which gives a new vitality and permeates all your being. And this water does not share the destiny of ordinary water which, when it stagnates, goes bad; on the contrary it wells up in you to eternal life.

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst, the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

‘But’, you will ask yourself, ‘what is symbolised by this water of which Jesus speaks?’

Perhaps the Holy Spirit which I received at baptism, and who has communicated the divine life to me, or perhaps the word of Christ, which we live inwardly as believers? One answer does not exclude the other.

In fact, in giving the water that generates supernatural life, Jesus gives himself.

Jesus present in your inmost being as new life gives you a totally new ‘way of being’. It is he who lives within you. And, as has happened with the saints, this may be obvious even in your most simple actions and may influence the people you meet.

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst, the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

How are we to put into practice this word of life? If Jesus is the only fullness that can satisfy your deepest thirst, what can be better than to choose him as the ideal of your life? An ideal is something that one chooses, studies, loves, follows and imitates. With an ideal one identifies oneself.

And where will you find Jesus in order to choose, study and follow him? Open the gospel! His words are He himself. Live them one by one. If you do this you will have nothing to fear for your future. You will not need to plan the stages of your spiritual maturation. The spring of water which Jesus communicates to you will have in itself the energy to make you grow towards, and to reach, sanctity. It will be enough for you to be faithful to Him with all your heart.

Chiara Lubich

 

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