Reflection on the Third Sunday of Lent
Since the Gospel today is so long, I have selected specific phrases to reflect on, rather than weaving a coherent homily.
The story of the “Woman at the Well” is found only in the Gospel of John. Yet, it is a powerful narrative, well suited for the season of Lent.
My first thought at the opening of the story was how beautifully Jesus tears the cultural divide between the Jews and the Samaritans. “Give me a drink.” He wants something from her, and yet he offers her something extraordinary: “living water.” He continues to explain what this living water becomes to those who drink it, and she asks for that water. She does not know it, but the grace (living water) she receives leads her to open her eyes to who Jesus must be.
She wants to know which is the right place to worship: Is it this mountain or is it in Jerusalem? Jesus assures her that it is neither place: True worshipers will worship God in Spirit and in truth. To me, this bridges another cultural tradition that separates the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus explains that the One True God (the Father) wants the worship of those who have no false gods and therefore must worship God in Spirit and in truth. She confesses and says, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one that is called the Christ; and when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one (who is) speaking to you.”
The woman is so filled with the wonderful thing she has just experienced that she runs to share it with the people of her village. They follow her to the well and after hearing him speak, they invited Jesus to stay with them. Jesus stayed with them two days.
There is an interesting detail that the author of this story mentions. As the woman leaves in haste to share her good news, she leaves her jar behind. This detail makes me wonder if she left her life behind and decided to follow Jesus.
When the disciples return, they encourage Jesus to eat something, and his response is most unusual for a traveler who has been on the road and is tired, thirsty and hot: “One sows and another reaps.” Is Jesus teaching his disciples that the work of God has to be done, no matter who starts, continues or finishes the job? Jesus certainly did a magnificent work with and for the Samaritans. Now the disciples must finish it.
I encourage you to reread this story again sometime this week.
Can we break through our cultural divides which separate us from others?
Are we willing to let go of the idols that keep us from worshiping God in Spirit and truth?
How does this Scripture speak to us as a community?