Third Sunday of Lent
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42, or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42
"God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth."
Though I am sure I have read it countless times, I don’t know that I ever thought much about this gospel of the Samaritan woman before today. But upon a deeper reflection, I see that Christ tells us a great deal in this encounter, and not just from what he says.
Jesus was a rebel. Of course, this sort of goes without saying considering he was claiming to be the Son of God. But Jesus did something truly scandalous as he took rest by Jacob’s Well in Samaria-he talked to a woman! It may seem silly to us today, but it was strictly taboo for a man to talk to a woman he didn’t know in public, not to mention that he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Then he doesn’t just talk to her-they engage in a profound discussion in which he not only offers her salvation but reveals himself to be the Messiah" "I am he, the one speaking with you."
There are so many lessons just from this initial encounter-first off, you never know where you are going to encounter Christ (so you better be ready). This woman was just taking her daily journey for water, an exhausting and monotonous task. And yet, what she finds at the well will change the whole course of her life. In her meeting with this strange man, it becomes clear that Jesus did not care about appearances. If we are to take the reading literally, this woman has been married five times and is currently living with a man who is not her husband. But our Lord talks to her as an equal knowing that her worthiness in the kingdom is not measured by her gender or race or class.
And for her part, this woman could have closed herself off from this bold and inappropriate man who was bothering her for a drink. But she received Christ’s message, "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet." She believed. And even more, she became an evangelist! She didn’t even take the time to grab her water jar first, she ran into town, "Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?" Her testimony helped make believers out of many.
How many times have we had opportunities to meet Christ in our daily lives and instead we just turn in the other direction? And yet, this ordinary woman finds a peace that perhaps she didn’t even know she was looking for. But this wasn’t a chance encounter. Christ was waiting for her there. Because he didn’t just come to save the devout! He came for the lost and the hopeless and the sinner. "But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).
Christ actually shares a lot about worship and faith and the Father in this brief encounter. But what continues to resonate with me is this symbol of the living water: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst . . ." We are so busy running around trying to quench our proverbial thirst that we often ignore the only thing that will truly fulfill that longing-faith, love, Christ.