Against All Odds (from my book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)
Isn‘t it odd that Jesus spoke with the Samarian woman at the well? Let us remember that Samaritans and Jews did not see eye to eye due to a long history of conflict and strife (cf. The Collegeville Bible Commentary, p. 987, 1970). Moreover, it was also odd that Jesus spoke to a woman who was considered a ‘second class citizen’ in Jewish culture (cf. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, revised edition, p. 162, 1975). Thus, we understand why the disciples were astonished when they saw Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:27).
What drew the Samaritan woman to Jesus? Was it simply the response to give water to Jesus who requested a drink? Or was there something else? These questions are intimately connected. Let me share an answer to these questions based on a striking remark of the Samaritan woman herself.
“Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did; I wonder if he is the Christ?” (John 4:29) This was what she eagerly told the townspeople. If we can still recall, when Jesus asked her to go and call her husband, the Samaritan woman said that she had no husband; to which Jesus remarked that she was right because she had five husbands (cf.John 4:16-18). The woman was drawn to Jesus because it was the first time she encountered a person whom she had never met in the past but was able to tell her about what was going on in her life, her ―secret life. This experience was more than being awed by someone who could read through a person‘s life. It was a moment of truthful self-confrontation for the woman who had to decide what she wanted to do with her life and her relationships. Jesus was leading her to see whether or not she was happy with her life.
There are moments in our lives when Jesus leads us to confront ourselves. This happens when a loved one or a friend talks to us about a wrongdoing. This also happens when we consult someone like a spiritual director or a counselor about a serious problem. At times, we find Jesus speaking to us about our doubts and dilemmas when we listen to a homily of a priest at mass. This can take place even when we are at prayer and the Lord makes us realize what we have to do about our lives. Whatever the circumstance, Jesus will go out of his way to dialogue with us like he did with the Samaritan woman, against all odds.
Lent is an opportune time to acknowledge that Jesus will reveal not only the truth about ourselves, but also the truth about Himself. When He does this, he will give us ‘springs of living water’ so that we shall no longer be thirsty again. He will fulfill His promise: “The water I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Share this insight during this holy season of #lent