John 4, 5 – 42
5 On the way Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Jacob’s well was there and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Give me something to drink.’
8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?’ — Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans.
10 Jesus replied to her: If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me something to drink,’ you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.
11 ‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered, ‘and the well is deep: how do you get this living water?
12 Are you a greater man than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?’
13 Jesus replied: Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again;
14 but no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.
15 ‘Sir,’ said the woman, ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never be thirsty or come here again to draw water.’
16 ‘Go and call your husband,’ said Jesus to her, ‘and come back here.’
17 The woman answered, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right to say, “I have no husband”;
18 for although you have had five, the one you now have is not your husband. You spoke the truth there.’
19 ‘I see you are a prophet, sir,’ said the woman.
20 ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, though you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’
21 Jesus said: Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews.
23 But the hour is coming — indeed is already here — when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.
25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah — that is, Christ — is coming; and when he comes he will explain everything.’
26 Jesus said, ‘That is who I am, I who speak to you.’
27 At this point his disciples returned and were surprised to find him speaking to a woman, though none of them asked, ‘What do you want from her?’ or, ‘What are you talking to her about?’
28 The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people,
29 `Come and see a man who has told me everything I have done; could this be the Christ?’
30 This brought people out of the town and they made their way towards him.
31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, do have something to eat’;
32 but he said, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’
33 So the disciples said to one another, ‘Has someone brought him food?’
34 But Jesus said: My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work.
35 Do you not have a saying: Four months and then the harvest? Well, I tell you, look around you, look at the fields; already they are white, ready for harvest!
36 Already the reaper is being paid his wages, already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life, so that sower and reaper can rejoice together.
37 For here the proverb holds true: one sows, another reaps;
38 I sent you to reap a harvest you have not laboured for. Others have laboured for it; and you have come into the rewards of their labour.
39 Many Samaritans of that town believed in him on the strength of the woman’s words of testimony, ‘He told me everything I have done.’
40 So, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and
41 many more came to believe on the strength of the words he spoke to them;
42 and they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe no longer because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he is indeed the Saviour of the world.’
New Jerusalem Bible
LENTEN INITIATION AND RENEWAL
Since Ash Wednesday the Christian community has been journeying with the elect in a more spiritual preparation for Easter Night. On the Third Sunday of Lent the First Scrutiny is celebrated with the elect. As the title “Period of Purification and Enlightenment” suggests, the three scrutinies have the spiritual purpose
- “to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect;
- to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good” (CIA 141).”
Different periods and stages in the liturgical order of christian initiation lead the elect and the parish community accompanying them in an ongoing process: “purified from” sin and evil to be “enlightened” to Jesus Christ.
On this Sunday we are helped with the elect to remember, uncover, and bring out areas in our life where we thirst for Jesus Christ the “living water” from the story in John 4, 5 – 42.
CHRIST DESIRES A MORE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ELECT
AND HIS DISCIPLES
As in the wedding at Cana (John 2, 1 – 11) celebrated on Sunday 2 of Ordinary Time and John 3, 29, Jesus is depicted in John 4 coming to his people as the Bridegroom Messiah. The narrative is a “type story” of a biblical pattern. It depicts the meeting of future spouses at the well, with these figures playing a key role in God’s history of salvation:
- Gen 24, 10 – 61: Abraham’s servant chose Rebekah as Isaac’s wife at Nahor’s well
- Gen 29, 1 – 10: Jacob met Rachel at well in Haran
- Exo 2, 15 – 22: Moses met Zipporah and her six sisters at well in Midian
CHRIST SCRUTINIZES THE ELECT AND HIS DISCIPLES
Jesus scrutinizes the woman who mirrors the spiritual history of her people (2 Kin 17, 5 – 41). Samaria fell to the king of Assyria in 721. Deported Israelites were replaced by people from five ethnic groups, each serving their male patron deity. Poorer Samaritans left behind had descendants who were ethnically mixed and worshiped Yahweh but also served their own gods.
From this historical development, Jews and Samaritians were mutually hostile to each other in Jesus’ time. The Samaritans also worship the gods from five neighbouring countries — as symbolised by the woman who “have had five husbands” (v 18).
In the story Jesus is depicted as coming to woo the people of Samaria back into God’s inclusive covenant of love.
ELECT AND DISCIPLES TO DRINK FROM CHRIST’S OFFER OF LIVING WATER
Like the woman at Samaria, the elect and Christ’s disciples are offered to drink from the “spring of water, welling up to for eternal life” (v 14).
As I ponder and pray on Jesus’ invitation for a more intimate relationship
- what inner thirsts am I aware of in my life and relationships?
- what greater freedom do I need to be who I am and what I do?
FROM INITIATION TO MISSION AS EVANGELIZER
John’s strategy of contrasting light and darkness may be employed to understand this story further. Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night” (John 3, 2) and could be considered a “sympathetic inquirer” in christian initiation terms.
The unnamed Samaritan woman met Jesus at noon (John 4, 6) and was led to mature faith in the encounter. She became the evangeliser and “sponsor” in today’s terms — of her Samaritan town (John 4, 39 – 42) which came to mature faith in Jesus as “Saviour of the world” in the period of two days.
As John’s gospel ends Nicodemus too “comes out into the light” (John 3, 21) as Jesus’ disciple with precious spices to embalm the body of the crucified Jesus (John 19, 39).
Christian Initiation of Adults, 1988.
James B Dunning, Echoing God’s Word. The North American Forum on the Catechumenate, 1993.
The New Jerusalem Bible. DLT & Doubleday and Company 1985.
Gather Your People
Come to the Feast
PREPARATION & PRESENTATION OF GIFTS
Change Our Hearts
Water of Life
In these Days of Lenten Journey
1 = 1st reading
P = Responsorial Psalm
2 = 2nd Reading
G = Gospel
In the prayer of exorcism (CIA 154), the celebrant prays that the elect who “like the woman of Samaria … may turn to the Lord … and acknowledge the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down.”
What “idols I worship” other than the living God do I need to move from, “to be shown the way of God’s saving love in the Holy Spirit” … and “come to worship God as Father in truth?”
What “faults do I need to confess?”
What “spirits of deceit” do I need to be freed from?
In sum, what change do I need to move from my thirsts to drink the living water that is Jesus Christ?
After our full initiation and renewal of our faith, how might I be an evangeliser to bring others to God’s inclusive and universal love?