This reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Mar. 23, 2014:
I recently revised this ancient manuscript of mine (with my professor’s permission) as a college paper for my Gospel of John class; I’ve re-revised it back to a blog post:
Holy Apostles College & Seminary
Fr. William Mills
SAS 461: Gospel of John
19 April 2016
Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that
“Everyone who drinks this water [from the well] will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jn 4:13-14, NABRE).”
The water of which Jesus speaks does not contain hydrogen or oxygen atoms; the water He’s talking about gives us far more than a quenched physical thirst—far more, for that matter, than the sustaining of physical life. His eternal fountain is of a “substance” of both greater beneficence and greater fulfillment than we can get out of even the most pure stream of water.
At first, I don’t think the Samaritan woman quite understood this. She responded to Jesus, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” She’s asking for the right thing; she just doesn’t get what it is yet. Jesus isn’t talking about something that’s going to save her from filling up a bucket. The kind of water that can be contained in a bucket is the kind that can only help sustain us in this life. Jesus’ “water,” however, can also be drunk in the next life—if we are able to find it before we get there.
Like the Samaritan woman, we too should be seeking and asking for this living water. For the water that Jesus offers—the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14)—is holiness, righteousness, and all manner of spiritual graces. It is the Holy Spirit Himself.
The Samaritan thought she was asking for something worldly–some special kind of water which would allow her to never be thirsty again. So many of us today desire similar things–worldly things. We think that they can save us from our toils, from our “drawing from wells.” And we think that, when they do, we will find peace and fulfillment. We are mistaken.
As Jesus said in Luke 12:22, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.” He wants us to be more concerned with things that really matter–those that affect our souls. “Instead, seek [your Father’s] kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides” (Lk 12:31).
What are we going to be bringing with us in the afterlife–our possessions, our bodies, or our souls? Only one is spiritual; only one will remain with us through death (our bodies and the world will only endure eternally once glorified at the end of time); only the states of our souls will dictate our eternal residence. Shouldn’t we be most concerned with the things which will affect our spiritual aspect, then?—the aspect that we’re going to have to live with forever? Keep in mind, eternity is a very long time to be cast out of God’s presence with a dirty soul. Really, it’s not just a “long time,” but is more like an unending state of being. We ought to seek to have a “spring” within ourselves overflowing with the everlasting sea of the Holy Spirit, not with waters of the world; for if that’s all we have, we will be left with nothing when our souls leave the H2O of this life behind.
If we can find this divine sustenance, this “living water” that is the Holy Spirit, we should experience great inner peace and serenity (even in the face of external tribulations). This is the result of putting our trust in God; all other things will fail us, if we place our faith in them instead of the Lord. Until we can accept that God alone can provide us with security, we will be striving to find security in fleeting things, grasping at H2O rather than clinging firmly to the Holy Spirit.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.–Jesus (Lk 12:34)
by Cameron Daly
 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (United States of America: Doubleday, 1997),
 see CCC, 1042, 1047.