Sunday, March 27, 2011
Thirst and water
When I got to church today I noticed that I was thirsty. Usually I do drink several glasses of water before going to church. I don't want to get the syndrome of fainting at mass, due to rushing to church without having anything to eat or drink, despite my adherence to the 1 hour rule about not eating 1 hour before Mass. The readings did reveal a tie in to this. The first reading in Mass today was the story of Moses providing water to the Israelites by striking his staff against a stone. They had become thirsty, probably also dehydrated; there was insufficient water for them up to that time. The third reading was the story of Jesus and the Samaritan at the well.
In my daily activities at work I often counsel my clients to drink more water, because the thirst is an unreliable measure of how much fluid we need to take in each day. The average person may only drink 3 or 4 glasses of liquid per day. This can be reflected in blood tests that show elevations in nitrogen waste products that otherwise should be flushed from the system.
The first reading has a very straightforward message, that God will provide for us our basic needs if we remain faithful to him. I particularly was intrigued by the third reading. I vaguely remember this reading from prior study or Mass attendance. The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman would be a good subject for finer analysis and was mysterious and powerful. The desciples came into the story at one point, and the masses of Samaritans as well. Knowledge of the customs of the time would be helpful for interpretation as well (i.e., the propriety of a Jewish man talking to women, especially Samaritan / gentile women).
After further study / research, using "The Voice" (Crivoice.org) as a source, I discovered that this passage had several unique features. First, Jesus was indeed going outside of usual decorum when he spoke to the non-Jewish woman, in public. Also, she was the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah. The woman was chosen because she was an instrument of evangelism, who could influence many others and bring them to the Messiah. I think that this reading is one that has more significance than a reading in Mass would suggest. Independent reading and study of the Mass readings can produce much greater insight, it seems.