Water, Water Everywhere

This Sunday you’ll be getting a double dose of H2O!

In the first reading from Exodus, the Hebrews thirst from wandering the desert and they complain to Moses, their leader. Moses appeals to God who gives him the power to bring water from a rock.


The Gospel reading from John tells of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus, by asking her for a drink, sparks a conversation on “living water” that produces eternal life.


What a coincidence…not!

Throughout the year, the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass are not read from the Bible in order from cover to cover. I fact, even though the first reading is typically from the Old Testament, the lector is not reading from the Bible at all, but rather the Lectionary for Mass.

The Church’s selection of the Old Testament reading to be included in the Lectionary was governed by harmony—it was chosen, for the most part, to correspond with the proclamation of the Gospel, which itself is fixed to specific seasons, feasts and observances:

“The best instance of harmony between the Old and New Testament readings occurs when it is one that Scripture itself suggests. This is the case when the doctrine and events recounted in texts of the New Testament bear a more or less explicit relationship to the doctrine and events of the Old Testament. The present Order of Readings selects Old Testament texts mainly because of their correlation with New Testament texts read in the same Mass, and particularly with the Gospel text.”––General Introduction to the Lectionary #67

On the basis of theme, typology and prophecy, the Order of Readings explicitly connects the Old Testament and Gospel selections. Here are just a few examples of the harmonies between the First Reading and the proclamation of the Gospel in Year A:

harmony The juxtaposition of the First Reading with the Gospel reveals how God’s work in the Old Testament anticipated what was accomplished in the New Testament through the incarnate Son.

“The principal purpose to which the plan of the old covenant was directed was to prepare for the coming of Christ, the redeemer of all and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy, and to indicate its meaning through various types.”—Dei Verbum #15

As we hear these readings, we learn to connect the promise with its fulfillment. We begin to see that the entire mystery of Christ and his salvific mission is in conformity with Jewish Scripture and, therefore, the realization and culmination of God’s plan.

“All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church #134

What’s your favorite harmony in the liturgical cycle? Do you have any insights on this Sunday’s readings? Share and let’s learn together!


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

bernard barry
March 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I have never commented on a subject matter on the internet–your APP and follow up is great–as a cradle catholic your approach to the subject matter is A-1 AND WHAT THE CHURCH NOT ONLY NEEDS-but requires -Thanks

March 21, 2014 at 5:17 am
– In reply to: bernard barry

Thank you so much for your kind words, Barry!

Matthew Olson
March 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm

In St. Augustine’s view, John 4:34 hints that Christ requested water to drink of the woman’s faith and bring her into His Body, the Church.
“‘And in the meanwhile His disciples besought Him, saying, Master, eat.’ For they had gone to buy meat, and had returned. ‘But He said, I have meat to eat which you know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him anything to eat?’ What wonder if that woman did not understand about the water? See; the disciples do not yet understand the meat. But He heard their thoughts, and now as a master instructs them, not in a round-about way, as He did the woman while He still sought her husband, but openly at once: ‘My meat,’ says He, ‘is to do the will of Him that sent me.’ Therefore, in the case of that woman, it was even His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him. That was the reason why He said, ‘I thirst, give me to drink;’ namely, to work faith in her, and to drink of her faith, and to transplant her into His own body, for His body is the Church. Therefore He says, ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.'”

March 21, 2014 at 5:18 am
– In reply to: Matthew Olson

Thanks Matthew for these insights! I’m sure they will spark conversation!

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