Samaritan woman at the well reflection
In an article first published in The Irish Catholic, Brendan Comerford finds lenten inspiration in the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well outside Sychar. I can never resist the temptation to do so since the Gospel reading for The Third Sunday of Lent, Year A, is the marvellous story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well John If someone were to ask you what is your image of Jesus, what would you say? When I think about that question in times of prayer, I invariably come back to this scene of Jesus with this woman. I find something very human about a Jesus who is literally exhausted from walking and most likely ministering to the crowds.
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From a talk given at St. Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks? What you have said is true. Could he possibly be the Christ?
We talk about Lent as a time of invitation from God. What does God want to give us this Lent? We begin by looking at the story of a woman who sees how she can change her life — how she can change the patterns of her life. She leaves behind her fears and her embarrassment and begins a new life — she sees that God has an invitation for her and she says, Yes! This is the history of our faith.
The history, the stories we know so well, took place in this region. But Jesus is a new part of it — a new covenant with God. We see the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament as he sits on the side of the well.
It was noon. The hottest part of the day. Who goes to the well at such a hot and unpleasant part of the day to draw water? This well was a lifeline for the people, but it was deserted at that noon. The woman was hiding from others because she was ashamed of her life. Jesus knows her shameful secret: she has had five husbands and she is hiding.
But what Jewish man would break the law and speak to an unattended woman — and a Samaritan woman! What man? Jesus, who wants to offer her a relationship that will heal her. This encounter at the well is an encounter between Jesus and US today. Lent is a season to be open and to receive. God is waiting to offer us a great gift this Lent: the gift of a relationship with God! But sometimes, we get caught up in our fear and our guilt and we focus on ourselves and our sin.
So we hide. Lent gives us a chance to look really closely at our lives and think about what we might want to change in it. How can we be better persons? If we only focus on our own sin, it becomes about us and it is a self-absorbed exercise. When we are caught up in guilt, we are looking at ourselves. Then, we come into the amazing awareness that even though we are sinners, we are loved incredibly by God.
That is when we become people who are drawn back to that love and to our God. A friend told me about how her father taught her to swim when she was a little girl. She stood at the edge of the pool and her dad was in the water. But she saw all of water and it was big and huge and she was afraid. Jump in! Look at me. Watch my eyes.
Jump into my arms and let me love you! But Jesus speaks to her directly. He is comfortable with her. He is offering her new life. A friendship with him. He wants to offer us the same thing - a real relationship with him. How does he encounter us? He sits in the same place we are.
He meets us in a place where we carry our shame and we want to hide. And he wants to love us and give us a new, deeper relationship with him. A lot of times, we try to keep God at a distance. I know I do. My life goes along and my relationship with God is that I am here and he is "up there. I have my life in control, or so I think until the next natural disaster in daily life comes along.
Then I suddenly realize, "Oh! I need God in my life. Help me, God! One of the first things we can really realize is that God Is Here. Not There. God is Here. We can read lots of theology books, go to discussions about our faith and take classes to study scripture.
All of those are wonderful. But if we only do those things, we never move outside of our head and into our Hearts. God invites us to sit in the quiet and feel God alive and loving us, living in our hearts.
In fact, the messier our lives are, the more we need his love and the more he wants to love us. Sometimes we feel like God is so far away. What kind of a life did she lead? The well was a gathering place in town and the people would have met there, talked, laughed, connected with each other. They leave the well, carry their water and go to the shade of their homes. And then it was noon and the woman of Samaria came by herself to draw water. She was avoiding the people of the town. She knows they will judge her.
I can think to myself, "Oh those people, judging someone like that, so harshly. But would I be different? How would I be as one of the other people in the town? Would I have befriended her the way Jesus did? Would I want to be even seen at the well with her? We are so quick to judge, so quick to scorn. If we isolate her and see her sins so clearly, it helps us feel better about our own. What does Jesus do?
He sits down and asks her for some water. Would I have accepted water from her? She is a sinner! I am judging her more harshly than God does! Jesus simply loves her as a sinner. We judge her and isolate her! And what makes us condemn her more harshly than Jesus does? We think in our minds, not our hearts, and our minds tell us that we know how we love, and God must love us the same way. We love carefully. We love as people deserve. We know how people have treated us in the past and we adapt our love accordingly.
God loves endlessly and without regard to what we have done. The best analogy I have for the way God loves us is parenthood. If you are a parent, you understand what it means to love and forgive your child over and over again. We look at the prodigal son and his guilt over what he did to his father. He decides to go home, and practices an apology on the way home.
The Woman at the Well: How Transformation Happens
Throughout the gospels in the New Testament, there are many stories about encounters between Jesus and seemingly random people. I often study these scriptures and sometimes, commentaries in an attempt to extract meaning from these brief exchanges. One of the encounters is between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, who is often referred to as the woman at the well. The disciples seem to have disappeared for a while and so Jesus goes to the well by himself to get a drink of water.
Question: "What can we learn from the woman at the well? This was an extraordinary woman. She was a Samaritan , a race of people that the Jews utterly despised as having no claim on their God, and she was an outcast and looked down upon by her own people. However, this woman was ostracized and marked as immoral, an unmarried woman living openly with the sixth in a series of men. The story of the woman at the well teaches us that God loves us in spite of our bankrupt lives.
Woman at the Well: A Story of a Loving God
The story of the woman at the well is one of the most well known in the Bible; many Christians can easily tell a summary of it. On its surface, the story chronicles ethnic prejudice and a woman shunned by her community. But take look deeper, and you'll realize it reveals a great deal about Jesus' character. Above all, the story, which unfolds in John , suggests that Jesus is a loving and accepting God, and we should follow his example. The story begins as Jesus and his disciples travel from Jerusalem in the south to Galilee in the north. To make their journey shorter, they take the quickest route, through Samaria. Tired and thirsty, Jesus sat by Jacob's well while his disciples went to the village of Sychar, roughly a half-mile away, to buy food. It was about noon, the hottest part of the day, and a Samaritan woman came to the well at this inconvenient time to draw water. During his encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus broke three Jewish customs. Firstly, he spoke to her despite the fact that she was a woman.
The Samaritan Woman
This reflection on John considers how Jesus values the people scorned by others, in this instance a Samaritan Woman. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. It was about noon. Where do you get that living water? The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.
Posted on March 13, Updated on March 13, Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Reflection on the Gospel: The Samaritan Woman at the Well
From a talk given at St. Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John , in John — The woman appears in John 4 :4—42, However below is John — But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar , near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well.
Samaritan woman at the well