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Dear brothers and sisters!
This third Sunday of Lent is marked by the celebrated dialogue of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, recounted by the Evangelist John. The woman goes every day to get water from an ancient well put there by the patriarch Jacob, and that day Jesus was sitting there, "tired from the journey" (John 4:6). St. Augustine comments: "It is not for nothing that Jesus is tired … the power of Christ created you, the weakness of Christ recreated you … With his power he created us, with his weakness he has come to find us" (In Ioh. Ev., 15, 2). Jesus' weariness, sign of his true humanity, can be seen as a prelude to the passion, with which he brought the work of our redemption to completion.
The theme of "thirst" emerges in particular in the meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well and it culminates with the cry on the cross: "I thirst" (John 19:28). Of course this thirst, like the weariness, has a physical basis. But Jesus, as Augustine continues, "had thirst of the woman's faith" (In Ioh. Ev. 15, 11), as he has for the faith of all of us. God the Father sent him to quench our thirst for eternal life, giving us his love, but asks our faith for bestowing this gift. Love's omnipotence always respects man's freedom; it knocks at his heart and awaits his answer with patience.
In the meeting with the Samaritan woman the symbol of water is prominent. It clearly alludes to the sacrament of baptism, the source of new life through faith in the grace of God. This Gospel, in fact -- as I pointed out in the catechesis on Ash Wednesday -- is part of the ancient program of preparation of the catechumens for Christian initiation, which took place in the great Vigil on Easter night. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give," Jesus says, "will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14). This water represents the Holy Spirit, the "gift" par excellence that Jesus has come to bring us from God the Father. Whoever is reborn by the water of the Holy Spirit, that is, baptism, enters into a real relation with God, a filial relation, and can worship "in spirit and truth" (John 4:23, 24), as Jesus discloses to the Samaritan woman. Thanks to the encounter with Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, man's faith comes to its fulfillment, as an answer to God's revelation.
Each one of us can identify ourselves with the Samaritan woman: Jesus awaits us, especially during this season of Lent, to speak to our hearts, to my heart. Let us pause a moment in silence, in our room, or in a church, or in a place apart. Let us listen to the voice that says: "If you knew the gift of God." May the Virgin Mary help us not to miss this opportunity on which our true happiness depends.
[After the Angelus the Pope made the following appeal in Italian:]
In the face of the ever more dramatic news that is coming from Libya, my trepidation for the safety of the civil population grows as does my apprehension for the developments of the situation, which is now marked by the use of arms. In moments of great tension there is a greater urgency to the exigency to have recourse to every means at the disposal of diplomatic action and to support even the weakest signs of openness and desire for reconciliation among all the parties involved, in the pursuit of peaceful and lasting solutions. In this regard, as I lift up my prayer to the Lord for a return to concord in Libya and the whole region of North Africa, I make a concerned appeal to international organizations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launching of dialogue and a suspension of the use of weapons.
I finally address the authorities and citizens of the Middle East, where in recent days various episodes of violence have sprung up, asking that there too the way of dialogue and reconciliation be privileged in the pursuit of just and fraternal coexistence.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[He then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]
I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus speaks to the Samaritan women of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the water which wells up to eternal life in those who believe. Through our Lenten observance may all of us be renewed in the grace of our Baptism and prepare with hearts renewed to celebrate the gift of new life at Easter. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[In Italian, he said:]
I wish everyone a good Sunday!