The title usually given for this Sunday’s Gospel (John 4:5-42) is: “The woman at the well.” The title is familiar to us but not the woman. Who is she? We know she is a Samaritan and, therefore, an outsider to the Jewish community. There was no contact between these two communities. We learn more about her as the conversation with Jesus takes place. She has had five husbands and is now living with a man who is not her husband.
But who is she? What might we discern about her? She comes to the well at noon to fetch water. She comes at the hottest time of the day. She comes alone and is there alone. She is shunned by her neighbors, judged and looked down upon. She is lonely. The succession of men in her life did not bring happiness. Her plight in lugging water signals someone caught in a world of poverty.
It is this lonely woman whom Jesus meets at the well. Jesus steps over the barriers of time and culture to greet her, a Samaritan and a woman, indeed, a Samaritan and a lonely woman. When Jesus “tells her everything she has ever done” she is not offended but tells the people of her village that He may be the Christ. It is at this deeper level that Jesus brings her healing and hope. By taking the initiative to speak with her in a gentle voice and with a welcoming demeanor, Jesus brings light to her darkness, reassurance in her despair.
Jesus leads her into a deeper conversation by speaking to her about living water. At first, she is content to have this water so she does not have to keep coming to the well each day. But then she realizes that Jesus is speaking about a living water that will cleanse and enliven her spirit. When Jesus tells her that He is the Messiah, she begins a journey of faith, a journey that has the potential to change her life forever.
How might you and I enter this story? We might bring our story to conversation with Christ.
Are you lonely? Then, bring your loneliness to Christ.
Are you afraid? Then, bring your fear to Christ.
Are you lacking in faith? Then, bring your doubts to Christ.
As we journey toward Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Jesus is inviting us to deeper conversation with Him. The healing He wishes to bring us is not simply a healing of mind or body; it is a healing of our souls, of that deeper level of our being where we are lonely, or fearful or doubting.
Why not spend some time in Church with Jesus this week and have a good heart-to-heart conversation with Him? He may tell you everything you have ever done. You can learn the truth about yourself and the truth will set you free. Then you might go to confession.