Social media has changed the way we engage with others and the world. It has the power to connect people in many good ways. It can shed light on important issues with a global audience and give individuals a voice. It provided support for many during COVID lockdowns. Yet we are also learning of its unhealthy side – social media addiction driven by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), a sense that our own lives need to be ‘insta-worthy’ (in other words, that our life must appear as amazing as everyone else’s staged Instagram photos look), and the exploitation of vulnerable people that is facilitated by online anonymity.
While social media is a relatively new phenomenon, the undesirable results are perennial issues emerging in a new context. Addiction, vanity and exploitation are just some of the things that can thrive when we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships or when we are starved of a positive sense of self.
Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well has so many dimensions for us to consider – a Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman is just one. It demonstrates, though, that Jesus is prepared to challenge the social and cultural barriers that people create to reach out to those who are thirsting for a personal, loving relationship with God. He shows the Samaritan woman a way to personal flourishing – the living water that only he can give.
Jesus meets us too in the times and places where we are left thirsting and unfulfilled, offering the loving gift of himself that is as essential to our existence as water. And as people who seek to never thirst again, we are also called to invite others to the well that is filled with the living water of Christ, so that all may flourish.
The water God offers quenches more than just our physical thirst. Do we reach out to those we see are thirsting for more in their lives?
Published in our parish bulletin, Carmel, 12 March 2023