I have always encouraged Catholics to own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and I used to import cheap(er) copies to sell. It is a good book to have as reference material, especially to check up on the teaching of the Church. However, the nature of the book makes it a kind of an ‘encyclopaedia’ of Church teaching, and unless one is interested in a certain topic, reading the whole Catechism can be quite laborious. The exception is the part on “Prayer” (Part Four of the Catechism). I want to quote you one paragraph from this section as it speaks also of this Sunday’s Gospel passage:
“If you knew the gift of God!” The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him” (CCC Para. 2560):
We tend to think of his thirsts only as a physical thirst. But God in coming to us, incarnated in the flesh, shows us he ‘thirst’ for us. It is God who first seeks us. Yes, God thirsts, Jesus thirsts….. and in this Sunday’s Gospel passage (John 4:5-42 (or >< 4:5-15.19-26.39-42) we find Him asking for a drink from a Samaritan woman. The exchange is one full of significance, which hopefully we priests will highlight some of them in our homilies.
Throughout the ages, men and women have expressed the human person’s thirst for God. We see this in the famous Psalm 42: “As a deer yearns for running streams, I yearn for you my God. I thirst for God the Living God…..” (Psalm 42:1).
St Augustine expressed it in this way: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” And the Catechism in an earlier paragraph (33) speaks of the human person has “longings for the infinite” which only God can fulfill.
But God thirsts too. As the Catechism says: God thirsts that we may thirst for Him. May we be quench by the Living Water of which Jesus speaks in the Gospel.
God bless Fr Michael