Some of you may remember that Volkswagen once produced a small car called the Rabbit that was very popular. So many years ago, when my family received a phone call from a local grocery store telling us we had won a rabbit, we were very excited at the prospect of winning a new car. You can imagine our surprise—and disappointment—when we went to the store to pick up our prize and discovered that it was not a car we had won but a big stuffed Easter Bunny.
Sometimes it’s very easy to misunderstand what people are trying to say to us. In our gospel story, Jesus, who has just asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, begins to tell her about the water he is offering—a water that will put an end to all thirst. The woman assumes that he is talking about some kind of magic water that would make it unnecessary for her to keep going back and forth to the well.
The water that Jesus is offering is, of course, the water of baptism—and it’s easy for us to misunderstand Jesus, too. Baptism is not just some nice ceremony for a family to celebrate the birth of a child or even to ask God’s blessing at the beginning of a child’s life. No, for those touched by the water of baptism, that water signifies a serious commitment to living a Christian life, a life modeled on that of their brother Jesus. If those who are baptized are too young to make that commitment, their parents and godparents must make that commitment on their behalf, until they are old enough to make that commitment on their own.
There should be no misunderstanding: baptism means a commitment to living as Christ lived, a commitment to living a life marked by prayer and worship; service to the poor; love for those who hate us; the rejection of the earthly values of wealth and power; an appreciation of the diversity of God’s people; and the priority of God’s will over anyone else’s, including our own. There should be no misunderstanding: yes to the water of baptism means yes to the commitment to live a new life. Without that commitment, we may as well be asking for a drink.
see John 4:5-15,19b-26, 39a, 40-42
By: Rev. Gregory Kimm