Friday, March 02, 2018

Pages from the Past: the Woman at the Well

Where there are catechumens, the story of the woman at the well of Samaria is the Gospel for the third Sunday of Lent. That may have been when I wrote this.


John 4: “Jesus had to pass through Samaria.” When I am in “Samaria” (where the fulness of the faith has been compromised), I tend to be super on my guard, defensive, worried. But Jesus was completely unguarded, even vulnerable. No sense of his eternal superiority or authority. But he did not hide the Gift of God, either—he allowed the woman herself to come to desire and ask for it.. in her own time, after he had allowed her to investigate further.

What I don’t get is that he was there at the well with the same…need: thirst. And yet he is the source of all we need. Anyway, it was through is thirst that he was there to be met. But just as his food is to do the will of the Heavenly Father, his thirst is not quite the one we know, either. His thirst was only partly for H2O.

So there he was at the well, with an analogous, if not identical, thirst to that which drew the Samaritan there; that is the commonality that allowed her to feel safe enough to enter into conversation. This is also what we need in terms of the New Evangelization: to meet people where they are, because we are in touch with that aspect of our own vulnerability, not from a perspective of self-assured superiority. In this new cultural situation, we need to be convinced of and comfortable with (or at least at peace with) what Jesus and Paul taught: “Power is made perfect in weakness.”

We, too, are or “have to” “pass through Samaria”—a landscape that used to be “ours” as a Christian culture, but which is now overrun with every form of error and unbelief. Jesus teaches us how to relate to the human beings who are under the sway of those false or inadequate or dehumanizing ideologies. But we are strangers in the land that was once “home.” Anyway, Jesus shows us how to conduct ourselves in relating with those who dwell in the territory, starting with the human weakness, experience of vulnerability.

At the well, Jesus put himself at the woman’s mercy, so to speak. He put her in charge of the conversation. She opened it up; he did not really initiate a conversation.

What if Jesus had been there at the well, dying of thirst, and the woman had studiously avoided him? Resisted any eye contact, etc? Didn’t “get” what he was saying? Would he then have pantomimed, “I’m dying of thirst! Water, please! For the love of God, water!” But the Preface says, “You had already prepared for her the gift of Faith.” So that “give me a drink” was a come-on; it was a “line” meant to start a conversation with her. (Jesus! I’m shocked! You resort to such devices?!)


John 4 is pretty close to John 2 (the miracle at Cana) and the well narrative is closely followed by a second Cana miracle, so John seems to be deliberately drawing our attention to the wedding “where he had made the water [subject of the first part of John 4] wine.” All that water/wine, and he was asking for a drink at the well? 

Was he offering to turn that water into wine as well? In a way, yes: “If you only knew the gift of God, you would ask…”




"Pages from the Past" are randomish excerpts from my old journals. I process things in writing, so there were a lot of volumes, but here and there I found notes that were still pertinent or helpful. I got rid of the books (hello, shredder!) and typed up the things I wanted to save, whether for myself (mostly) or to share. 

1 comment:

Stormy Lntz said...

The Ultimate Spiritually converting "pick up " line !