LECTIO DIVINA: III Sunday of Lent, Cycle A


Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Jn. 4:5-42

A. Invoking the Holy Spirit.

We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.

Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified, to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128,4) Amen.

B. Lectio .

With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.

5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans, 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep, where then can you get this living water?12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18 For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him must in Spirit and truth. 25 The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” 27 At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 They went out of the town and came to him. 31 Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat, of which you do not know.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’  38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.” Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” 40 When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them, and he stayed for two days. 41 Many more began to believe in him because of the word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”  

C. Meditatio.

Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.

“Now begin the mysteries, because not in vain does Jesus labor; not in vain does the Strength of God labor; not in vain does he labor who animates the exhausted; not in vain does he labor who, if he abandons us, we become exhausted; if he is present, we are assured. Jesus is truly tired and he is tired of the journey, and he sits down; he sits beside the well and exhausted, he sits at the sixth hour. All that suggests something, wants to indicate something, calls our attention, exhorts us to knock at the door…. We find Jesus the strong and we find Jesus the weak; Jesus the strong and the weak: strong because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the Word  existed from the beginning in God. Do you want to see how powerful is the Son of God? All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be and everything was made without effort. What? Is there one more powerful than through whom all things were made without effort? Do you want to know that he is weak? The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The power of Jesus created you, the weakness of Jesus redeemed you. The power of Jesus made to exist what was not; the weakness of Jesus made what exists not to perish. With his power he created us, with his weakness he sought us (Io. eu. tr. 15,6).

Why the sixth hour? Because it is the sixth epoch of the world. According to the Gospel, you compute as the first hour the first epoch, from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham until David; the fourth from David to the deportation to Babylon;  the fifth from the deportation to Babylon until the Baptism of John; the sixth develops from there up to this moment. What do you admire? Jesus arrived and condescending he arrived at the well. He arrived tired because he bore the weak flesh. At the sixth hour, because the sixth epoch of the world was developing. He arrived at the well because he arrived at the depth of this our dwelling. … He sat down because he condescended (Io. eu. tr. 15,9).

Jesus tells her: Give me a drink…. Then the Samaritan woman tells him: How come that you, a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? Indeed, the Jews did not deal with Samaritans. You see that they were strangers; the Jews never used their vessels. And precisely because the woman was carrying a receptacle to fetch water, she was surprised why a Jew would ask her for a drink, something that Jews usually did not do. Thus, he who asked for a drink was thirsty for the faith of that same woman (Io. eu. tr. 15, 11).

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” With all clarity the Lord has spoken: It shall become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life…. It is all evident that he was promising water, not visible but invisible; it is all evident that he was speaking in a sense not carnal but spiritual (Io. eu. tr. 15. 14).

D. Oratio.

With the text let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.

a. “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:13).

  • From your point of view, what is the water that Jesus promises to give?
  • How is your thirst for Christ, for God?

b. “He who asked for a drink, thirsted for the faith of that woman” (Io. eu. tr.15,11).

  • What does it mean that Jesus thirsted for the woman’s faith?
  • How is God’s thirst for your faith?

c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, give me to drink of your water.”

E. Contemplatio.

I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.

a. Contemplate Christ arriving at the well and sitting on its curbstone. Contemplate how he dialogues with the Samaritan woman and how she is captivated by the words of Jesus. Contemplate how Jesus promises the living water and how the woman asks him to give her a drink of this water. Contemplate how the disciples were amazed that Jesus would speak with a woman and how the woman goes to the town and announce that she has met the Messiah. Contemplate and ask Christ that he give you the living water of the Holy Spirit.

b. Contemplate how Jesus tells you that he is thirsting for your faith. Contemplate how you can give a drink to Christ. Contemplate that in reality it is he who gives a drink to you, that he gives you his own Spirit. Contemplate and adore. 

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God especially about thirsting for God and drinking of the Holy Spirit. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina  on this text.

  • What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
  • How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
  • What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
  • What has been my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?

G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine.

Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our feebleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you increase our faith, govern our mind, and give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).

“Therefore, he had thirst of that in her, of fulfilling in her the will of the Father, and of accomplishing his work (diu. Qu. 64, 4).

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Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR

Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Priest/Religious/Bible Professor of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.