St. Peter’s Square was filled to overflowing on Sunday as pilgrims awaited Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus. Before praying the noon-time prayer, the Pope called on all Christians to imitate the Samaritan woman who responds to God’s thirst for her faith and love.
Students, parents and educators, who came to hear the Holy Father's discourse on education on Saturday listened as the Pope began his reflection on today's gospel.
Benedict XVI urged all those present to personally read and mediate on the story of Samaritan woman by identifying themselves with her and discovering the meaning of the passage for them. St. Augustine, he added, was fascinated by this text and wrote many notable commentaries on it.
The Holy Father then offered his own insights into the story of the Samaritan woman.
Jews, he said, did not recognize Samaritans, and much less so women. Thus, when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, it was indeed highly unusual. But even more unusual was that he demonstrated to the woman that he knew her, and then revealed himself to her.
"Give me something to drink, he said, leaving her astonished. It is in fact highly unusual for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan woman, the most unrecognized. The miracle of the woman was the destiny that arose: Jesus spoke of a living water that has the capacity to extinguish thirst and become in her a fountain rising up to eternal life. He demonstrated that he knew her own personal life and revealed that the hour was coming to adore the one true God in spirit and in truth. Finally, he confided in her something most rare, that he was the Messiah."
Pope Benedict noted that the point of departure for all of this was the experience of real thirst. The theme of thirst, he added, appears throughout the Gospel of John: In the encounter with the Samaritan woman, in the great prophecy during the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn. 7:37) and finally at the Cross, when Jesus, before dying said, in order to fulfill the words of Scripture, "I thirst" (Jn. 19:28).
"The thirst of Christ is a gate of access to the mystery of God, who is in fact made thirsty to satisfy our thirst, as one made poor so that we might become rich (2 Cor. 8,9). Yes, God is thirsty for our faith and our love. "
He added, "The woman of Samaria represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who has not found what she is looking for. She had ‘five husbands’ and now lived with another man. Her coming and going to the well to draw water expressed a life that was resigned and repetitive.”
“But all of that changed for her that day in her conversation with the Lord Jesus, who turned all of that around and led her to leave her jar at the well, and run to tell the others in the village. ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ the Pope said quoting the woman’s words.
In the same way, Pope Benedict said that we can also meet Jesus when we open our hearts and receive his word faithfully.
"As with the Samaritan woman, we will meet Jesus, who will reveal to us his love and say, this Messiah, your Savior, it is I who speak to you. Let us ask this of Mary, the first and most perfect disciple in whom the Word became flesh."
After the Angelus, the pope welcomed all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus.
"As we continue our Lenten journey may our resolve to follow closely the path of Jesus be strengthened through prayer, forgiveness, fasting and assistance to those in need. I trust your visit to Rome will increase your understanding of the faith and deepen your love of the universal Church. Upon all of you and your dear ones, I gladly invoke the strength and peace of Christ the Lord."