In today’s Gospel reading we heard John 4: 5-42 about the Samaritan Woman at the well.
A few points noted in Fr. John Sweeney’s homily:
- A Jew talking with a Samaritan would have been shocking at the time.
- A man talking to a woman alone would have been shocking at the time.
- The woman is drawing water at an odd time — when no one else was likely to be around because of the way she was living her life.
- Fun-Fact Note!: This is a long and very detailed Gospel story; much longer than most others. [AKA Note that it has significance!]
So let’s not gloss over these things as we contemplate the passage.
Additionally, Fr. John talked about how we each are like the Samaritan woman and Jesus is waiting by the well for us to come to Him – ready to give us the living water of the Holy Spirit.
Those are the main reflections anyone is bound to hear about this Gospel passage. So what I want to note is this:
- This woman who is avoiding meeting other people by drawing water in the middle of the day then goes and seeks out the townspeople — the very same people she was purposely avoiding!
- She seeks them out because she is excited and recognizes that Jesus is the appointed one. Being given the living water of the Holy Spirit led her to not care what the townspeople might say when they saw her but instead she was able to focus on bringing Jesus to others – because that is what matters!
- The townspeople appear to have judged this woman as shun-worthy but then they actually listen to her? That seems surprising — someone you shun so greatly that she has to draw water in the middle of the day comes and tells you something as shocking as she met a man who could possibly be the Christ (Jn 4:29) and instead of running away and ignoring her they go out of town to see Jesus?
- They go out of town to see Jesus — also indicates their desire to discover this man of whom the woman spoke. They didn’t have to look out their door or walk a few feet – they had to make an effort to get to him.
- Many of the town came to believe because of the woman’s testimony (Jn 4:39). What’s that again? A woman, and an outcast woman at that, was the way you found Jesus? Is that not surprising? Did you ever think the Messiah would show such mercy to such a person as this kind of woman? Yet He has and it is evident — and because of her testimony they came to believe in Jesus.
- The townspeople invite Jesus to stay and Jesus spends two days with those in that town (Jn 4:30) – and many more came to believe because they heard it for themselves. You may think “Duh. Cuz it’s Jesus. Of course they came to believe!” But after just 2 days? Don’t forget – these are Samaritans after all! Jesus is so powerful and amazing that he converted many Samaritans in just 48-hours. How long did it take to convert that many of the Jewish people?
- At the end of the passage (Jn 4:32) the townspeople talk to the woman– they direct their remarks about believing in Jesus to the woman. It may be easy to miss at this point in the passage — but did you notice that? The text says: “and they said to the woman”. They were speaking directly to a woman that not just two days prior had been severely outcast by them. I like to think this means that they no longer were going to treat her as an outcast – because of the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and His example of forgiveness they were able to move beyond her past and welcome her future.
The Samaritan Woman. 4He had to* pass through Samaria. 5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,* near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. 7A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9* The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”b (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) 10* Jesus answered and said to her,c “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11[The woman] said to him, “Sir,* you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”d 13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”e 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” 17The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”f 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.g 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;* but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”h 21Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.i 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;* and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. 24God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”j 25* The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming,k the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
27At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,* but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, 29“Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30They went out of the town and came to him. 31Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.m 35Do you not say, ‘In four months* the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.n 36The reaper is already* receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.o37For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’p 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
39Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman* who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” 40When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 42and they said to the woman, “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.”q