Scripture reflections – Sunday, March 27th

Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2; 5-8; John 4:5-42

3rd Sunday in Lent

This week’s Old Testament and gospel readings center around the theme of water.  As the heat and discomfort of the desert begins to settle into the bones of the Hebrew people, they are losing that sacred sense of wonder instilled in them when God performed the greatest water miracle of the entire Bible – the parting of the Sea of Reeds (generally translated as “Red Sea”).  “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?” they complain to Moses. 

It seems that their thirst is talking, so God instructs Moses to strike his staff – the same staff that Moses used in that earlier miracle – upon a rock, and fresh water begins to flow.  Certainly not the same magnitude of drama as the first water miracle, but it is what the people need at this time.

Moving forward more then a millennia in time, the gospel story also centers on water – but not H2O.   “Whoever drinks the water I shall give”, Jesus says to the Samaritan woman who has misunderstood his reference to ‘living water’, “will  never thirst”. (In that time and place, “living water” commonly referred to the fresh waters of a moving river or stream, as opposed to the stagnant waters of the wells.)

Water, water everywhere.  All sorts of interventions by God are represented by this basic requirement for life.  Sometimes, God breaks into our lives in unmistakeable and life-transforming ways – the full-blown miracle – and we are changed forever.  Othertimes, God works quietly, subtley, giving us our daily bread , just what we need to live in the present moment.  All of the time, God pours God’s grace into our lives, this living water drenching us with love and hope and joy. 

Isn’t it sad that all of us sometimes, and some of us all the time ,think that we’re living in a desert even though we are standing under a waterfall?

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(You can find my book-length commentaries on the scriptures – and the Church- at   My latest book is entitled Make Room for Scripture.)

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