3rd Sunday in Lent, Year A
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
March 23, 2014
The Samaritan woman comes about noon to the well to draw water. In those days without indoor plumbing drawing water from the well was a daily task but it was usually a morning task before it got hot.
This Samaritan woman waits till later when she thinks no one will be there but finds Jesus there. Jesus asks for a drink. She is astonished by this. She is a Samaritan and she recognizes him as a Jew. The Jews and the Samaritans did not talk to each other. And men would not talk to a woman alone.
Why? Because he cares about the woman. It doesn’t matter that she is a Samaritan. Jesus still offers her all that he brings.
As the conversation continues, Jesus and the woman are thinking from two different perspectives. She takes what Jesus says literally but it is not the water in the well that Jesus speaks of but the living waters of the Holy Spirit.
As a Samaritan, she would have been a woman of faith but a faith somewhat different from the Jews (hence, the Jews and Samaritans didn’t talk to each other).
So she is capable of knowing more than the literal but she takes Jesus literally when he asks for a drink. They are sitting next to a well. Who would ever guess that Jesus is speaking of water other than what is in the well?
As Jesus describes the living waters to her and tells her that all who drink on this water will never thirst again, she still takes him literally and asks for this water, thinking she wouldn’t have to come to the well just to get a glass of water.
At this point the conversation shifts. Jesus knows she is still thinking literally because she doesn’t know who he is. Jesus tells her to go get her husband and this leads to Jesus speaking about the five husbands she has known.
In doing so, Jesus displays knowledge that she would not expect him to know. Remember she is a Samaritan and a woman of faith. So, she recognizes Jesus’ words as the words of a prophet.
The woman has taken a great step in her faith but there is still more to learn. Jesus is not just a prophet.
The woman herself speaks of the Messiah to come. Jesus offers the simplest of responses, “I am he.”
The Samaritan woman goes off to the town and tells people what Jesus has said to her. She knows Jesus is an amazing person and wants to share that with others. She tells them what Jesus has said and says to them “Could he possibly be the Christ?”
She hasn’t come to full faith herself but she shares what she does know and in doing so, leads others to Jesus.
Two lessons here. First, we come to faith in stages. There may be great leaps in our faith but faith is an ongoing learning process for us. We never know everything. Growing in faith requires more than just coming to Mass. We need to come to Mass but we also need to learn more.
We sometimes think learning is just for kids. It isn’t. We never know everything about our faith. I know I don’t. This is why we offer Small Christian Communities. It’s why Pat and I do talks. It’s why we have the CD’s in back of church. It’s why our religious ed program involves not just the children but the whole family. We need to grow in faith.
The second lesson from this passage is that we are called to share our faith. Sometimes we think we don’t know enough about Jesus to talk to others. The Samaritan woman had only just begun to know Jesus when she shared what she did know with others.
It’s called evangelization. Recent popes use the term New Evangelization. The new evangelization is not just about evangelizing others. We need to evangelize ourselves to deepen our own faith.
It is a never-ending process in this world. What do you do to learn more about our faith?