A Cycle – 3rd Sunday of Lent 20
Jn. 4: 5 – 42
If you think about this parable about the Samaritan woman, or other parables given to us, you will see one constant theme; Jesus always does something unexpected. Today he enters Samaria, a region Jews walked around rather then enter that territory. He forgave the sins of the paralytic lowered through the roof and He restored the prodigal son. There are many other parables and stories where we are shown this constant trait revealing to us the simple fact that God is unpredictable in His response to us.
Unpredictable to us because our response to the situations would do the opposite of what God does. The truth is God is very God predictable in his approach to us. He seeks us out and He will go all out to get our attention. He offers us the very things we seek but before we receive what we are seeking, we are offered the very thing we need. That is the surprise God springs on us, and it is an invitation for us to embrace what is offered.
In every parable the surprise is we are offered restoration without doing anything to atone for our self-serving indulgences. That is the nature of God which Jesus came to reveal to us and that should be clear to us in today’s parable. The woman at the well parable is a mirror image of us and we should pay attention to the invitation rather than shut down because we believe this woman is not us. Oh, we might not have had five husbands but that is a minor point within the story. The key for us to understand is how all sin separates us from God. All sin destroys our relationship with God, big sins and little sins (1 Jn. 5:17).
This woman does what all sinners have done since the first sin of Adam and Eve; we hide from God. We avoid contact with Him, the very contact God desires most we avoid. God desires to show us not only how we can hide nothing from Him but how He is already in motion to forgiving and restoring long before we are ready to accept what we are being offered.
She does this by first engaging in a theological discussion. We would rather engage our minds with God long before we are ready to allow God to touch our hearts. Yet somehow even without attempts to be holy, pious, religious people who are willing to engage our God intellectually but at the same time not allowing Him to break through the walls we have erected around ourselves. But God, if we allow ourselves to come into to His presence will eventually break down our resistance by offering us what we need more than anything. That is to know our past has nothing to do with our future.
God has always been concerned with showing us His plans for us and revealing to us how our plans often will not allow God to embrace us and heal us. Notice in this parable how Jesus keeps knocking down the things the Samaritan woman has built up to protect herself from the distance her sins have created between herself and God. Jesus went to her, sought her out and waited for her to show up.
It begs the question we should reflect on for the remainder of this Lenten season, when will we show up and allow Jesus to speak to our hearts and to our sins.
Once Jesus has broken through all the ways she used to avoid condemnation, he then offers her something unexpected. Instead of having her repent, before having her admit her sins and beg for mercy, before she has a chance to explain why she did what she did and place the blame on someone or something else, as did Eve, Jesus offers to satisfy what she needs the most; the one thing she needs to never thirst again.
This is the nature of God Jesus came to reveal. We see it in the woman caught in adultery, the prodigal son, the man born blind from birth and in the cripple laying by the pool with no one to assist him. Not one of them asked for what they received. Do we even know what has been offered us by God beyond eternal life? There is a life here on this earth where God’s presence is constant and fills us with peace, hope, forgiveness and the sure and certain knowledge we are special in God’s eyes.
To obtain it we need to do nothing more than open our hearts and say exactly what the Samaritan woman said, “give it to me.” Then and only then will God place His arms around us and embrace us as He restores us. Once this happens, our response will be exactly what hers was and that is to tell others what God is offering to give all of us who thirst for it. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied” (Mt. 5:6}.