Faithful around the world will celebrate the third Sunday of Lent on March 12, 2023.
The third Sunday of Lent provides an opportunity to think about spiritual hunger and thirst — and to be reminded that God will provide all we need, a Baltimore-based priest told Fox News Digital.
"Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well shows how an unlikely character would be the sacred vessel to carry the quenching Good News to the people of Samaria," said Fr. Leo Patalinghug, a priest of the Voluntas Dei (The Will of God) Institute.
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In addition to his priestly ministry, Patalinghug is the author of the book, "Dining with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Righteous Feast."
He's founder of the international food and faith movement called Plating Grace and is host of "Savoring our Faith," a food and faith show on the Catholic TV network EWTN.
The saving nature of water is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, starting with the Book of Genesis, Patalinghug explained.
"Before God made Adam and Eve, God created food — in particular, water," he said. "This tells us that God has always planned to provide for all of his creation."
The human body is 60% water, said Patalinghug, noting that a person cannot survive for more than three days without water.
"For the recently exiled Jewish people wandering with Moses in the desert for 40 years, they regularly complained about having no water," he said.
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And while they complained about thirst, their complaints were "not just about finding water — it was about losing trust that God would provide."
He continued, "The Jews complained, but Moses prayed, and God would quench their thirst by doing the impossible: bringing water from the rock."
The rock, said Patalinghug, "represents the hardness of our own hearts."
He continued, "We need water to soften our hearts. But we need to trust that God will provide that water."
He added, "God made water necessary for salvation. The ‘waters of baptism’ is the first sacrament that initiates someone into the life of Christ."
The Bible story of the Samaritan woman at the well is yet another story of how water can save, noted Patalinghug.
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"Jesus said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.' The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water'" (John 4:13-15).
The exchange at the well has a deeper meaning than just water, said the priest.
"Remember, Samaritans were looked down upon by the Jews, and vice versa," he said.
The woman at the well "was also a woman of ill repute, which is why she went to the well at the most inconvenient time — in the middle of the day when it was the hottest."
By going to the well at an atypical time, the woman "likely wanted to avoid the gossip that would spread about her, the way people gossip around the water cooler," said Patalinghug.
"But, she went to the well, out of human need, and by God's providence she would meet Jesus — who would touch her heart the way Moses touched the rock."
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Although her exchange with Christ was "salty," Jesus was able to "see that she was truly thirsting for something only God's love could provide," he said.
"Jesus used the human need for water to quench her almost forgotten spiritual need for forgiveness and purpose," said Patalinghug.
In the season of Lent, people should also take the time to "discern what we hunger and thirst [for], and where we go to be satisfied," he said.
"Jesus speaks to us, unlikely saints in the making, touching our hearts with his words and bringing forth the life-giving waters from our stony hearts," Patalinghug also said.
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"Now, our job is to do what the woman of the well did," he said.
"She carried the message of faith — the living waters — to others, so they can taste and see the goodness of the Lord."