We’re getting into a part of Lent where the Sunday Gospels are long…but oh, so beloved!! This Sunday’s Gospel is the story of the Woman at the Well.
This story has several hidden highlights, so to speak. First of all, Jesus is sitting at a well in a district where Jews were not welcome…think of the Jim Crow laws that used to be prevalent in the South and you have the idea. Note that the woman comes to the well at noon. The normal time for a woman to get water for her household was in the early morning. So this tells us that the Samaritan woman was very conscious of her shameful past. But that didn’t matter to Jesus. He transformed her shame into honor, and she returns to town telling everyone that she feels differently about herself…something new and exciting happened within her. And if you wanna throw in a bit of modern Church politics, note that it was a female who delivered the message to the town. Jesus has a track record of doing that.
The scenery gets a bit crowded then. The disciples return from their food-finding which creates a little and important exchange of learning for the disciples. The town’s folks go out to see for themselves after believing in her word. Jesus stays with them, now no longer a stranger and a foreigner. They come to make the great statement which is central to John’s Gospel: “This truly is the savior of the world.” That sentence will be repeated in the two Sunday Gospels to come.
Like the Samaritan woman, we all have checkered pasts…we’ve all got things inside we’re ashamed of. It’s part of the human condition. That sense of shame affects our lives in conscious and unconscious ways, and we find ourselves looking for the one well that will take away the shame and give us an abiding sense of self-worth, value, completion, and union.
Jesus is the only well that can provide that Living Water for which we long. Every other well can satisfy for only so long, and then we move onto another – the Samaritan woman, for example, had 6 husbands! Even spiritually we have our wells…are you, for example looking for a place where you can “worship in Spirit and truth?” Many are….myself included. Sometimes the wells are stores. The Internet has lots of wells. Relationships can be wells which either give life or cause us to drown in frustration and anger. I’ve lived long enough to know that there is not one earthly thing that will fully satisfy me….and yet, I keep trying to find it. Jeesh….duh!!! I thank Jesus and his Father every day for their patience until I “get it.”
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.