This weekend is Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd of March, beginning the Third Week of Lent.

The Choir of Westminster Cathedral sing Sicut Cervus by Palestrina: “As the dear yearns for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you, my God”.

This weekend’s reading is from the Gospel of John.

On a hot, dusty, desert day, this would have been a welcome break, a respite for Jesus. Think of any occasions when you’ve been really tired, and badly in need of sitting down for a few moments. Can you imagine what it would be like to taste cool, clear water, drawn straight from a well; pure and clean, cool and refreshing?

Imagine, you’re in that place again now, resting, feeling the tiredness in your legs and in all of you, but also feeling the energy and the life returning as you relax. And as you sip that cool water, you begin to feel restored. 

This woman appeared, while Jesus was sitting there. Something about him engaged her, something about him opened up something in her, gave her permission to speak. He asked her for a drink; in this way opening a conversation with her. She was astonished and she said so; she came from a different people, a minority group that you weren’t meant to associate with. Can you see something of yourself in her?

There was something about Jesus and his way, his manner, his tone of voice, that freed her … when he talked about living water, that only he could give … she knew deep down what he was talking about. Can you understand what Jesus is talking about?

As you listen to the second half of the reading, pay particular attention to the way that the disciples – Jesus’ own friends and followers react.

This wasn’t the first time that the disciples were unimpressed by the sort of company that Jesus kept, and it wouldn’t be the last! They weren’t happy about this moment. They didn’t say so out loud. Then to confuse them even more, he didn’t appear to want anything to eat. His concerns seemed to be of a different order, his gaze fixed higher. Can you recognise any of your own behaviour and reactions in the reaction of the disciples?

When you ponder what Jesus says and does, and think about the idea of living water, that not only refreshes but gushes up to eternal life, what wells up inside you? What do you notice surging up from somewhere in your own heart, your own soul? In the remaining moments of your reflection, talk to him about what wells up in you and, like the woman at the well , can you ask him for that water, so that you may never thirst again?