Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - 23 February 2013
Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was making more disciples and baptizing more than John (although Jesus’ disciples were baptizing, not Jesus himself). Therefore, he left Judea and went back to Galilee.
Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food.
The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.)
Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into [aiónios] life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband, and come back here.”
The woman replied, “I don’t have a husband.”
“You are right to say, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus answered. “You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn’t your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.”
The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”
The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
Before I say anything today, I want to wish my beautiful daughter happy twenty-first birthday! I can still catch glimpses of the wee sprite in “dog-ears” in her every now and then. But, I’m in awe of the beautiful, creative, passionate, and strong, young woman she is. I love you, Princess, and am so very proud of you.
There is a lot of shock and awe in this story. This first part, obviously, is the fourth paragraph. There’s the statement from Photine, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” And then there’s the editor’s commentary, “Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.” I don’t know about you, but I just love this exchange! If you think about the women in the Bible, not one of them seems shy or timid or “under the boot” of men. They speak out. The stand up for themselves and the marginalized. Even the woman with the issue of blood was brassy enough to approach Jesus. And who cares that she did it in secret? It was still a gutsy move on her part. The same thing is going on here. Just look at Photine’s response! Instead of giving him a drink, she sides the issue and calls him out for breaking social standards! And then calling into questions his ego? Wow. No one in any other story talked to Jesus this way.
The next shocking thing about this story comes when Photine changes the subject (again, who else ever did that to Jesus?!*). And this is a critical exchange. In fact, it should have been a game changer for us, but we’ve missed it (or perhaps we ignored it).
Photine inquired about the correct place to worship G_d; about whose religious tradition is right. Did you ever think of her question in that way? “Whose tradition is right?” We automatically assume that it’s ours. The only problem we have is Jesus’ answer. We really don’t know what to do with it. “Woman,” he said, “I tell you that neither is so. Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers...The Father-Mother is spirit, and is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain...” (The Voice, amended**).
Did you see it? Jesus said that our religious traditions aren’t the answers we think they are. They were supposed to point us to something deeper. In fact, he said that they should have been gone a long time ago. During his time, a new day was already present when our places and modes of tradition were no longer important. What is important is our intentions. True worship comes when we are seeking G_d through deep spiritual practices with the knowledge that all truth is G_d’s truth. That is the place where G_d meets us.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* Oh! Wait! I just thought of someone else who talked similarly to Jesus...his MOM!
**The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.