Third Sunday of Lent: The Woman at the Well
This Samaritan woman goes to the well in the heat of the day most likely because she wanted to avoid running into others who would look on her as a tainted woman. She is surprised to encounter a man, and even more a Jewish man, who initiates a conversation with her. She was already vulnerable because of her past and when she meets this man, Jesus, she could immediately recognize his acceptance. So she is comfortable enough to offer him a drink of water. In turn, he offers her more, an invitation to get in touch with the thirst in her soul which she had tried to satisfy with multiple love affairs. Filled with his acceptance and realizing she had found someone who could fulfill her deepest longings, she runs to others to spread the good news.
So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst; the water that I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw water."
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband;’ for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."
Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to him.
Reflection from the Preface of the Mass:
When he asked the woman of Samaria for water to drink, Christ had already prepared for her the gift of faith. In his thirst to receive her faith he awakened in her heart the fire of your love.
Suggestions for Reflection:
- Jesus breaks the boundaries of religion and culture and even goes so far as to ask a favor of the Samaritan woman. How can I break the boundaries of religious and cultural biases so as to accept and learn from others different from me?
- What are my deeper hungers and thirsts which only the Lord can satisfy?
- Do I believe that Jesus accepts me as I am with my past failures and sins?
- What is attractive about the way Jesus relates with the Samaritan woman?