March 19: Thirsting for Life-giving Waters

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March 19: Thirsting for Life-giving Waters

Especially during the Lenten, Holy Week, and Easter seasons, the prayer texts of the Eastern Church revel in paradoxical images of Christ: the eternal life who is put to death, the host of the supper who is also its meal, the thirsty crucified one with living water streaming from his side. These images flow from the evangelists’ portrayals of Jesus and from his very ministry, during which he often upset or reversed people’s expectations about him or the ways of God. This “reversal” is at play in today’s Gospel, as Jesus speaks to an enemy foreigner who is also a woman beneath his status. In addition he, the thirsting one, shows the woman to be the one truly thirsting. He whose parched lips will say “I thirst” before he dies is the source of life and life-giving water. Lent calls upon us to dwell on how each of us is thirsting for Christ, and it leads us, ultimately, back to the life-giving waters of our baptism into his Body.

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