Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Lent

John 4:5-42

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Barbara Thiella

Published: March 04, 2018

Read John 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Read More…

On a warm day Jesus and a local woman meet at a well outside a Samaritan town. Both are seeking fresh water from a well named for Jacob. As they talk, slowly this chance meeting moves beyond exchanging facts into the meaning of life. The Gospel writer John uses this conversational device in seven different scenes: in some like the story about Nicodemus, the conversation stays at the level of thinking out loud; in others like Jesus’s conversation with the blind man, the moment opens fully to the presence of the holy.

In this story Jesus begins the exchange with a factual request: he is thirsty and wants a drink of water. The woman banters back about their differences of belief, customs, prejudices and sex. Jesus replies by offering her living water: “if you respond to my offer, you will never thirst again.” The woman banters again. Then Jesus says very simply that the water he is offering will become a spring of water welling up from within even to eternal life. The woman is interested in any water that quenches her thirst and simplifies her life –no more trips to draw water daily for her household.

Since Jesus has tried three time to draw her beyond bantering or facts, he asks her to call her husband then come back. Finally, she responds, still with facts, yet with words spoken very truthfully.” I have no husband.” When Jesus agrees and says more, she signals her openness to speak about what is simmering within her.  The woman has hope.  Sitting with her at the well is one who knows her story and still stays in the conversation.

Because Jesus chose to stay engaged, no matter what her reply, and the woman freely continued the conversation with Jesus, the rest of the chance meeting now moves into matters of the heart for both. When Jesus tells her that he is the Messiah, the Christ, she goes back to her town and calls others to come and see this man at the well who told her everything that she had done.

Look carefully at the parable presented by the exchange of words between Jesus and the woman: our good God will stay in the conversation and wait for a loving response no matter how long it takes. A loving life does become living water refreshing others.

The woman’s family and friends come to know and believe in Jesus, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” Like the Samaritan women, may our lives prompt insight, goodness and action in others.


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