All three readings today have rich baptismal overtones. From earliest times they have been used, especially the Gospel of the Samaritan woman, in the catechesis during Lent of adult candidates for Baptism, which took place during the Easter Vigil. So now the Church prays and exhorts us through the Word of God to be renewed in spirit so that we can renew our Baptismal promises with renewed dedication during the Easter Vigil.

In today’s first reading, the Israelites ‘tormented by thirst’ in the wilderness were crying out for water. God told Moses to strike the rock at Horeb and water gushed forth. In the second reading St Paul reminds us that ‘it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. This hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.’ We receive this surpassing grace at our Baptism.

In the Gospel we have the marvellous account of Jesus, the Word made flesh, with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus was tired and thirsty from His journey and asked her for a drink. But as St Augustine says His real thirst was for this woman’s faith and salvation. We are all present in this woman – enslaved by her natural desires or perhaps somebody else’s; estranged from God, ourselves and others because of the sin of our first parents. To quote St Paul again ‘we were still helpless when at the appointed moment Christ died for sinful humankind’. (cf Rom 5:6). Jesus revealed to this woman His intimate knowledge of her. By doing so in such a non-judgmental and accepting way He liberated her from her past. He aroused her thirst for the living waters of the Spirit which He was offering her. He revealed to her in the most personal and moving way that He was the Christ. He used the words ‘I am He’ which recall God’s Name to Moses ‘I am who I am’ and thus that He is God.

The Good Shepherd has found His lost sheep and carries it home rejoicing. The immediate response of the Samaritan woman was to hurry back to the town and she could say ‘rejoice with me I am found! Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did. I wonder is he the Christ?’ Like St Mary Magdalene who after the Lord’s Resurrection became ‘the apostle to the apostles’ this woman became an apostle to her own townspeople and was the means of bringing many of them to believe in Jesus. Unlike some of the towns in Galilee Jesus could not resist their desire for Him, the openness and faith of these Samaritans and stayed for two days preaching the word to them. Many more came to believe and hailed Jesus not only as the Messiah but as the Saviour of the world. Do we hear Jesus say “go and do likewise”?