A Cycle – 3rd Sunday of Lent 23

A Cycle – 3rd Sunday of Lent 23

Jn. 4:5-42

We know this gospel story so well each of us can talk about the various details in the story.  We know how it begins and we know how it ends.  The dialogue in between is also known to us but let us pay attention to some details of the story.  Jesus goes into Samaria, a territory where the inhabitants are considered “heretics” and Jew’s avoid any contact with them.  What he is doing would stun the sensibilities of the Pharisees but he does not seem to care.  He is not passing through because it is the shorter way to get to where he is going. He is deliberately going to encounter this woman.  Jesus sits down at the well and speaks to the woman as she comes in the middle of the day to draw water.  This small detail is important as it shows us how Jesus comes to us to encounter us where we are hiding. 

There are two things we need to reflect on before we go any further. That is how Jesus reveals how unimportant are the things we feel are central and critical to our being “righteous before God.”  First is the fact he is in Samaria at all. Then add the fact he is talking to a woman, which during the time of Jesus no man would do.  Finally, he asks her for a drink, which means he would drink from an “impure vessel” which is against the law.  If the Pharisees had seen this they would have been ripping their garments in outrage. 

Those actions of Jesus tell us a great deal about ourselves during this period of Lent when we are taught to reflect on our lives, desiring and committing to change. All of that so we do not lose the grace of God and wander in the desert any longer than we already have wandered.  But Jesus the story is telling us how Jesus will always come to us to us, seeks us, invites us, calls us and weeps over us.  In the Book of Revelations, Jesus tells us he “knocks at the door (of our hearts) and waits for us to open up to invite him in” (Rev.3:20).  The woman at the well, like us, resist his attempt to give her what she longs for.  She has a routine that works for her’ she avoids the townspeople because of her lifestyle.  She sees herself as unworthy and is ashamed of her choices in life.  She is seeking love, wholeness, affirmation but has never received it.    

Jesus by breaking all the rules which dictated how anyone should relate to God, shows us the love of God and how much he desires to change how we view ourselves and Him.  Jesus offers her what she is looking for and that is exactly what He is offering us.  But we like her, are shocked when we consider He would speak to us. We, like her, would rather remain in the comfortable space we have created for ourselves and God.  We are deceived by the rules we are following and would rather debate theology or the law and what that means to our ability to have contact with God. We remain distant from Jesus but feel we are right in our thinking we must keep God in the role we believe is proper. 

Pay attention to how patient Jesus is with her as He listens to her.  How He without condemnation in His words to her cut through her defenses and she knows she cannot hide her failures from Him. He knows and even as He reveals how much He knows; His words are said with love and with a message of hope – “I have what you are looking for.”  If we would one day this Lent, mentally seek go to the well and have an encounter with Jesus we would receive exactly what satisfies our thirst.  We would have this same discussion with Jesus and it would change us.  We would have a similar response to this encounter, and it would be as life changing as hers was. 

Lent is all about developing a relationship with God.  In the early church the only people who fasted, prayed, and gave alms were those who were coming into the church.  It was all about entering a new life in Christ.  Eventually the general populace began to do those same practices, but the focus was not on themselves, but they made those sacrifices for those coming into the church. It was all about those leaving the pagan world and embracing Jesus. 

We could learn something from the woman at the well and from that aspect of the early church and its focus during Lent.  Her response to Jesus was to go into the town and tell everyone about Jesus and what He had done for her.  She evangelized the entire town, who went to Jesus and encountered Him themselves.  She had a story to tell, not one based on some deep theological or even minor theological discussion. But one based on what changed within her because of her experience with Jesus. 

This is a story about how Jesus seeks the lost, the abandoned, the wounded, the righteous and the unrighteous and how He is relentless in His pursuit of each of us.  He wants us to respond and once we do it cannot be contained within us. We must tell others because the power of forgiveness is so strong an antidote to our sin we have to share the truth of it with others.  That my brothers and sisters is what we are seeking, isn’t it?  To know we are forgiven, to know we are loved and how much God delights in us.  That is what Jesus came to show us. That is what the Spirit desires to accomplish within us. That is what pleases God the most. It is not our sacrifices but your hearts God de

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