This week was a heart wrenching week as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads in almost every country around the globe.

The virus caused a radical discruption to the life of many people on the planet as people stock up on groceries, offices closed down, major sports and cultural events are cancelled and people are told to stay home rather than congregate and risk spreading the disease.

Despite the death, illness and other destructive impact of the virus, there might be some opportunities and important lessons that this pandemic might teach us. Dutch trends forecaster Li Edelkoort, for example, said that the virus might even be a grace for the world:

“The virus will slow down everything, We will see an arrest in the making of consumer goods. That is terrible and wonderful because we need to stop producing at such a pace. We need to change our behavior to save the environment. It’s almost as if the virus is an amazing grace for the planet.” [1]

Edelkoort believes we can emerge from the health crisis as more conscientious humans provided that we find new values—values of simple experience, of friendship. “It might just turn the world around for the better.”[2]

Indeed, this pandemic might be a test for us in which, depending upon our response, we can come out for better or for worst.

In the 1st reading of today’s 3rd Sunday of Lent, we hear of the Israelites quarreling with Moses about the lack of water, and Moses rebuking the Israelites for testing Yahweh.

The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Interestingly Massah, means testing, and Meribah, means quarreling.

In the gospel today we hear of the profoundly meaningful story of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The story is a long conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman who came to the well at noon time.  The well became the venue for the Samaritan woman to discover Jesus. Jesus started with the basic human need of thirst leading up to his profound mission of satisfying deep human needs and desires.

“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.”

It was in the well that the Samaritan woman came to true faith, that is, “coming and seeing” fulfilment of her human aspiration in Jesus. This led her to discover her true identity. She was no longer just a Samaritan or a woman but a follower of Jesus who left her old life in favour of a higher form of life in Jesus.

Lent is a journey of encountering Jesus. In the first Sunday of Lent, we encountered Jesus in the desert. In the second Sunday of Lent, we encountered Jesus on the mountain top. In today’s third Sunday of Lent, we encountered Jesus on the well. All these places became the locus where we discover ourselves and God

This pandemic, believe it or not, can be a place where we can encounter Jesus, however tragic it may be. The pandemic has forced us to slow down which providentially gave us an opportunity to take a stock of our lives as inviduals and as a global community. The pandemic helped us to return to the most essential values of our humanity–to live in harmony with nature, with fellow human beings and and the source of everything–God.

When we look at the well, what do we see? We see ourselves. If we look deeper into the reality of this pandemic, we can rediscover our true selves and Jesus in the midst of this tragedy. However, this will entail conversion and giving up of our old ways in order to rebuild and live our lives closer to one another, to nature and to God.