Asking for Water

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” John 4:7

I did not get past this verse. In another time and space, I would have just skimmed past this verse moving on to the meat of the story. However, this time it was different. I stopped where Jesus asked for a drink. This is where it all began. The rest of the story would not have happened if Jesus did not ask for some water. It wasn’t a pretext to have a conversation with this woman. The gospel makes it very clear. Jesus was exhausted. He was genuinely thirsty. The woman went to the well at a time when there was nobody around. This is very telling of her state in her own society. She was an outsider in a society of outcasts. She did not expect anyone to be there, especially not a Jewish man. It was Jesus who initiated the conversation. He needed her help because he did not have a bucket to draw water. She did and He was thirsty. That was all that mattered for Jesus.

I never ask any help from our children and teens. Maybe it is because I can only see their needs and not what they have. If I was thirsty by the well and saw one of our boys drawing water with a bucket, I still would not ask for water. I would be thinking about the bucket; wondering whether it was clean and where it has been…I would be thinking about the condition of the bucket more than the person who was using it. If someone whom I consider to be clean and hygienic was drawing water using the same bucket, I would not hesitate to ask for some water. My thoughts would be directed towards the person. Such is life. I don’t want to be like this but I live in this reality. Jesus shows us a better way to live our lives.

Jesus did not see a Samaritan woman. He just saw someone who has the capability to share whatever she has received. The prove of this comes much later in this story. He saw in this woman someone who had something to offer to him. I need to ask myself if I look at our children and teens and think that they have something to share with me. It would only make them appear to be more human to me. If they are always at the receiving end, they will never be my equals. They never be truly humans to me. Maybe the woman wouldn’t have been willing to receive what Jesus had to offer if He hadn’t been willing to receive from her.

The woman was shocked that Jesus was willing to receive anything from her. She was understandably suspicious. Why would a Jewish man want anything from her? She wasn’t afraid of Jesus. She wouldn’t have engaged him if she thought that He was dangerous. Nevertheless, she was suspicious. We have to admit that it is a little strange. Jesus could have asked his disciples before they left him to get some water for him. The disciples were astonished perhaps even a little scandalized (John 4:27) when they saw what had unfolded. Jesus never explained Himself. He was thirsty and this woman despite who she was or what she had done, was able to give Him water. This was all that mattered and this is all it took for us to learn great lessons about the Living Water.

I wanted to write something about the whole text but my mind was stuck on this verse. It stayed with me through the many activities we did with the children this week. I felt the absence of Ruan. We haven’t seen him this week. Last weekend, he introduced us to his girlfriend. On Monday, she was with another teenager. His romantic escape did not survive the weekend. Unfortunately, it was enough to send him running away to hide and recover from his wounds. We did not see him the whole week. His absence made our hearts lonely. Our weekly trip to the foot specialist with Gabriel will end this coming week. His foot is healing perfectly. This means that next Wednesday will be the last time we will walk together to this center and chatting about everything and nothing. I have been praying for his healing but I am going to miss our walks to this place together. The weather has also been unforgivingly hot this week. There were days where the heat had drained all the energies of the children. They were not up to doing anything. Most of them did not even come of their hiding places. We missed seeing most of them. It made us feel like our week wasn’t complete.

I realized that something has happened in us. We can spend weeks not seeing our friends here, which just happened recently. Everyone likes to stay cool and indoors during the summer months here. The heat kills all desire to interact with people. We are fine with this. However, when we don’t see our children for a day, we feel that our days are empty. I thought that we were coming here to help to give their lives some meaning. Now, it seems like that we have received something from them. They have refreshed our lives with their presence. We were thirsty and tired and they came and gave us something to drink.

Perhaps on another occasion, I would not have admitted to this. It makes me look weak and even pathetic to say that I need these children and teens to enrich my days. Then, I read that Jesus was tired and wasn’t ashamed to ask a Samaritan woman for some water. He wouldn’t have had the conversation with her if he wasn’t willing to admit that he needed her help as well.

The simple gesture of Jesus has revealed to us that we cannot show compassion and love to people unless we are willing to let them see that we need them as well. It may be just a glass of water but for the Samaritan woman, it gave her a place in the gospel for eternity.

Maybe you are wondering where I am going with all this. I am not going anywhere. I am just happy to be here where God has given the grace to admit that I see these children giving me something with their lives. Not just to admit that we need them, but also the grace to receive the good things that they have to offer us. They have made our lives richer and perhaps now they can listen to what we have to offer as well.


3 thoughts on “Asking for Water

  1. We all know how fulfilling and important it is to give of ourselves and our treasure to help those in need, It certainly feels good and in accordance with Jesus’ teachings. However, there is wisdom in the saying that it is also important to be a grateful receiver, which allows the giver the pleasure and grace from acceptance of his or her offering to us. You and Mary have given these severely disadvantaged and often unloved children so much over time, and by their coming back to meetings with you and sharing their lives with you (which it seems to me is in fact tacitly asking something of them) they are also giving you their trust and their admission that you are important to them. So it seems to me that you are doubly blessed when you have come to the realization of the other half of this spiritual equation, notwithstanding some of the difficulties you’ve mentioned about that. I think that most of us who read your sends and write back and donate to your Mercy Mission respect and admire greatly the courage, determination and selflessness which you two have displayed in this far from easy ministry! Perhaps it would be helpful to think of how easy it is to enjoy and accept these little gifts we offer you by our correspondence and support!

    In God’s love and light, Hank

  2. Walking with Gabriel is a gift. Tell him I am glad he is healing. Did he have any response to my letter? Maybe it was too much. He needs to tell me what he is interested in, so I can find connections. When I was a hospital chaplain, I was always looking for connections. It was amazing about the patients stories and what their lives have been like. A gift to me really. Any word from Bruno?

  3. I am sad for Ruan that he got his heart broken and, most likely, his pride. We as adults know that all will eventually be ok . . . but, to a young teen, his world has come crashing down. I truly hope he will make his presence known soon so that you can soothe his heart.

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