FAITH IS BORN FROM ENCOUNTER
God thirsts for our faith and wants us to find the source of our authentic happiness in him. Every believer is in danger of practicing a false religiosity, of not seeking in God the answer to the most intimate expectations of the heart but, on the contrary, treating God as though he were at the service of our desires and projects...
The symbolism of water returns with great eloquence in the famous gospel passage that recounts Jesus' meeting with the Samaritan woman in Sychar by Jacob's well. We immediately perceive a link between the well, built by the great patriarch of Israel to guarantee his family water, and salvation history, where God gives humanity water welling up to eternal life. If there is a physical thirst for water that is indispensable for life on this earth, there is also a spiritual thirst in man that God alone can satisfy.
This is clearly visible in the dialogue between Jesus and the woman who came to Jacob's well to draw water. Everything begins with Jesus' request: "Give me a drink" (cf. John 4:5-7). At first sight it seems a simple request for a little water in the hot middday sun. In fact, with this question, addressed moreover to a Samaritan woman - there was bad blood between the Jews and the Samaritans - Jesus triggers in the woman to whom he is talking an inner process that kindles within her the desire for something more profound. St. Augustine comments, "Although Jesus asked for a drink, his real thirst was for this woman's faith" (In Io ev. Tract. XV, 11: PL 35, 1514). In fact, at a certain point, it was the woman herself who asked Jesus for the water (cf. John 4:15), thereby demonstrating that in every person there is an inherent need for God and for salvation that only God can satisfy. It is a thirst for the infinite which only the water that Jesus offers, the living water of the Spirit, can quench. In a little while, in the Preface, we shall hear these words: Jesus "asked the woman of Samaria for water to drink, and had already prepared for her the gift of faith. In his thirst to receive her faith, he awakened in her heart the fire of your love."
Dear brothers and sisters, in this dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, we see outlined the spiritual itinerary that each one of us, that every Christian community, is ceaselessly called to rediscover and follow....As he did with the Samaritan woman, Jesus wishes to bring us to profess our faith powerfully in him so that we may then proclaim and witness to our brethren the joy of the encounter with him and the marvels that his love works in our existence. Faith is born from the encounter with Jesus, recognized and accepted as the definitive Revealer and Savior in whom God's face is revealed. Once the Lord has won the Samaritan woman's heart, her life is transformed and she runs without delay to take the good news to her people (cf. John 4:28-29).
- Homily, Third Sunday of Lent, February 24, 2008
From Lent with Pope Benedict XVI: Meditations for Every Day