Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Lent

John 4:5-42

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Magdalen Lawler

Published: March 15, 2020

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…


Glimpse: THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
 an encounter with Jesus.

My fascination with this woman goes back many years. I was familiar with a number of images that portrayed her as a promiscuous woman. I had also heard many homilies about this ‘sinful woman’. They were echoed in the homilies I had heard about Mary of Magdala, my patron. I felt that, like Mary of Magdala, she was misrepresented by the Church when, in all likelihood she had been divorced by her husbands, or widowed, because the cultural mores of her time made it unlikely that she would be able to sue for divorce.

30 years ago, I discovered a most beautiful icon of the Samaritan Woman in the vesting room of a small domestic chapel belonging to the British Jesuits. It has taken me all of 30 years to find a publisher who would reproduce the icon in book form. I felt drawn to representing this woman as one of the nameless many women in Mark’s gospel who had ‘followed ‘Jesus, ‘ministered to him’ and ‘come up to Jerusalem with him’. I have been working with a parish group of women in Sidcup, Greater London, who call themselves ‘WINGS’: Women in Gospel Service. We are rediscovering all the nameless women who appear in the Gospel narratives; women and girls like the ‘Bent Woman’ and the young woman, ‘Daughter of Jairus’ and the ‘little slave girl’, (‘ton paidiskon’ Gk.) who unarmed Peter, the ‘Prince of the Apostles’.

The Eastern Christian Church remains more faithful to the tradition that this woman, whom we celebrate today, was indeed an apostle. She holds the longest conversation with Jesus, that is recorded in the gospels. She is the first to address Jesus as ‘Lord’ in John’s gospel. She runs off carrying the good news to those who will become the Samaritan Church. She discards her bucket, because she, too, has become a ‘vessel of election’, carrying the ‘Living Water’ to others. Eastern Churches have given her a name, Photine, which derives from the Greek word, ‘phos’, meaning ‘light’, and she has a feast day celebrating her gift of listening to Jesus and acting on what she hears. Maybe we could rediscover many of these women as a sort of Lenten project and ‘name’ them in ways that are meaningful to us, personally.

St Photine, pray for us and lead us to the Living Water.

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