Dear Cathedral Family,
This Sunday we will read together John’s wonderful and rich story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus, tired out from his journey, was sitting by Jacob’s Well when the woman came to draw water. When he asked her for a drink and she questioned his willingness to speak to her, a woman and an outsider, Jesus told her about the “living water” that he could give her. “Everyone who drinks of this water [at Jacob’s Well] 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.”
Jacob’s Well is now considered one of the great holy wells of the Middle East. Water of holy wells is often considered to have healing properties, through the lasting presence of the saint or sacred figure whose action made the water flow. The spring that issued from Moses’ staff in our first lesson this week is one of the first such sacred water sources. Jacob’s Well has been a site of pilgrimage for Christians since the 4th century, and it is now situated within an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery in Balata village near the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank.
Pilgrims have journeyed through the centuries to such sacred sites for myriad reasons, but generally one might say that the pull to make such a journey is a response to some inner hunger or thirst, a thirst of soul that is satisfied only by the “living water” Jesus described as he sat by the well long ago.
Jesus speaks to each of us when he speaks to the Samaritan woman. He tells us that the thirst of the body is real and may be satisfied, but only temporarily; he is able to satisfy the thirst of the soul, also real and satisfied forever through the meaning and wholeness that he brings to our lives.
Every Sunday is in a way a small pilgrimage to gather at the well together and be refreshed by the living water that Jesus gives.