Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who 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 do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water 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, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people 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 the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
The Holy Gospel According To Saint John (4:5-42)
One day, a butcher is working away in his butcher shop, when a large dog walks into the shop, carrying a purse in its mouth. The dog puts the purse down at the butcher’s feet and then sits in front of the meat case. "What is it, fella?" the butcher jokingly asks. "Need to buy some meat?" "Woof!" responds the dog. The butcher, still joking, says, “Want some chicken?” The dog sits and stares at him. “How about some pork?” The dog sits and stares at him. “Want some steak?” "Woof! Woof!" signals the dog. “How much steak? A quarter-pound?” The dog just stares at him. “A half a pound?” The dog just stares at him. “One pound?" "Woof! Woof!" signals the dog. The amazed butcher wraps up the meat, picks up the purse the dog left at the butcher’s feet, and finds money in it. He puts the change into the purse, puts it in a bag with the steak, and gives it to the dog. And the dog gets up and goes. As the dog leaves the shop, the butcher decides to follow. The dog enters an apartment building, climbs the stairs to the third floor and begins scratching at a door. With that, the door swings open and an angry man starts shouting at the dog: “Bad dog! Stupid dog!” "Hey! Stop!" yells the butcher. "That is the most intelligent animal I've ever seen!" The man says, "Intelligent? HA! If he’s so smart, then why is this the third time this week that he forgot his key." We expect a great deal from one another. Sometimes too much. And it seems there is no end to our disappointment in our spouses, our children, our parents, our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends. Our disappointment in others and our criticism of certain people always end up shoving those people out to the very edges of our life -- like shooing a dog out of the house: “Bad dog! Stupid dog!” The Samaritan Woman in today’s Gospel Reading had been shoved out to the edges of life. She was a victim of her own sins, and of people’s disappointment in her and criticism of her.
In the eyes of the Jews, her Samaritan nationality and her Samaritan religion made her a nonperson -- like a dog! Among her own Samaritan People, her promiscuity made her an outcast, and she was treated by her own people as if she were a nonperson -- like a dog! But Our Lord Jesus did not reject her or ignore her. He lowered a bucket into the deep well of her soul, far below her sins and mistakes and fears. And from within her, He drew up her faith and joy. It was her faith and her joy at being pulled up from the pit of her sins that enabled the Samaritan Woman to re-create her life, to re-form herself into the woman that Our Lord knew was deep inside of her. And in telling others of her encounter with Our Lord Jesus, she became like a well, a fountainhead of faith and forgiveness and re-creation for others. You know, every year, Our Lord Jesus gives us the 40 days of Lent so that we can re-form, cast off our sins, and be re-born spiritually. To be re-born in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ begins with confronting two realities:
- The reality of our own lives as they are, and
- The reality of our need for re-creation, re-birth.
Sin is real:
- Sin does exist in our lives.
- Sin is something for which we have to take responsibility.
Sin is dangerous.
- Sin poisons and destroys us.
- And every one of our sins affects every person on the planet, like a virus that spreads throughout the world.
But – through Our Lord Jesus Christ – forgiveness, reconciliation and re-birth are just as real as sin – and much more powerful than sin! In her encounter with Our Lord Jesus at Jacob's Well, the Samaritan Woman confronted her own sinfulness. By doing so, she realized how much she needed God.
- Pray that you and I will be willing to do that for the next two weeks of Lent.
- Pray that you and I will be willing to move beyond the failings of others, our disappointment in others.
- Pray that you and I realize the good they possess, and that we must draw up that goodness from within them, and help them to use their goodness for the benefit of all.