Today’s Gospel: John 4:1-26
The story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well is one of the most stunning transformations in the Bible because “the rules” are broken. First, it is important to remember that Jews and Samaritans in that day went out of their way to avoid any contact with one another. They were essentially “enemies”; they were “other.” Scripture tells us that Jesus is making his way from Judea back to Galilee, and he has broken the rules by going through Samaria rather than around it. Jews in that day would have gone around Samaria and through the Jordan Valley to avoid any contact with Samaritans—not Jesus!
Then there is the “rule breaking” by the unnamed Samaritan woman he encounters at the well. In those days, women went to draw water early in the morning because it was the cool of the day. It was often a social time when the women gathered at the well to draw water and to catch up on the latest news. The fact that the Samaritan woman is at the well at noon and by herself begs the question, Why? While the Bible is silent about the reason, one might surmise that the woman has some shame associated with the fact that she has been married five times and is currently living with a man to whom she is not married. Don’t we all know something about shame and the isolation that sometimes accompanies it?
What is interesting about the story is that they have both broken the rules and end up together. They break: rules surrounding gender, rules surrounding ethnicity, rules surrounding culture. In overcoming artificial human barriers, transformation occurs. Jesus offers the Samaritan woman “living water” to quench her parched places and the scorned and sore spots in her spirit.
Jesus offers us that same living water to heal and restore the parched places and sore spots in our spirit. May we like the courageous Samaritan woman ask Jesus, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty…..” …and then drink deeply.
O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
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