In this week’s Gospel passage, we learn a valuable lesson about blessings from unlikely sources. Tired from the day’s journey, Jesus sat down at Jacob’s well where he encounters the woman from Samaria. She had come to draw water from the well. It is high noon, the hottest time of the day. No one else should have been there at that time—or so she thought. Jesus is at the well and he asks her for “a drink” of water. And so begins a very unlikely scenario according to the societal norms of the time. Jesus was a Jew and she a Samaritan. Jews despised Samaritans and considered them heretics and apostates. They had nothing to do with them. Second, she was a woman alone at the well and men did not speak with women without their husbands present. Finally, she was a woman with a “past.” She’d had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. And yet, Jesus chooses to offer her the blessing of “living water.” She doesn't refuse him, but she wonders aloud why he would go against the social norms to ask her for a drink. In doing so she almost misses the blessing offered to her. Thankfully, Jesus does not give up and He continues to reveal himself to her. Ultimately Jesus' encounter at the well of Samaria ends with the woman's growing awareness that Jesus is more than just "a prophet" but "the Prophet" whom the Samaritans (and Jews) saw as the Messiah who was coming. She becomes the first person in John’s Gospel to whom Jesus openly reveals himself as the Messiah. She then returns to her town and she becomes the unlikely source of blessing for her people. “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word the woman…testified.” She, a woman, a woman with a shady past, a Samaritan, This passage speaks powerfully to our project of evangelization today. It reminds us that the Good News of God in Jesus is meant to overcome ancient hostilities and cross-cultural barriers. The gift of God in Jesus is meant for all who thirst for God. Perhaps we are the ones who are thirsting and in need of the “living water.”
During this Lenten season, am I the one thirsting and in need of “living water?” Is Jesus reaching out to me via an unlikely source?
Father, thank you that Jesus doesn't leave us at the surface, but probes until he can lead us deeper. Help me to be open to the unlikely ways that Jesus is calling me to drink deeply at the well of your Living Water! Help me to never take your Holy Spirit for granted. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.