Like the Samaritan woman, we encounter Christ through realization of our sins, especially our predominant sins. If we ask … He will give us living water…which is His, sanctifying, indwelling grace so we may worship and live in spirit and truth.
We are already beginning the 3rd week of lent – Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan is a perfect way for us to assess how our preparation for Holy Week is going and to rededicate ourselves as we journey toward Jerusalem with Christ in our readings.
Our reading begins noting the humanity of Christ – Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. Hot day and Jesus exhausted. He knows our struggles. Yet, he was more interested in the encounter with the Samaritan woman than his own fatigue and thirst.
Samaritans and Jews were enemies yet Jesus wins the town by reaching out to one person, a sinner rejected by her community and lost. She begins her encounter by noting the hopeless reality that he can’t ask her for something because their peoples are enemies and do not consort with each other. So for us – we can encounter Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Jesus then brings her from a discussion about physical water to his desire to give her living water (which we know is grace)… but she’s not yet open, not able to recognize who Jesus is and that in these ordinary circumstances, she is encountering God, who is seeking her.
When she asks for this living water, thinking it is some shortcut for her long walk out to the well…
Jesus cuts to the heart of her person when he rather shrewdly says: “go call you husband” - Jesus prompting her to admit her sin freely. For she responds truthfully she has no husband. Jesus does not condemn her, but affirms her in truth. “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (used long form because short omitted this important engagement of the woman’s sin/encounter)
THIS is the critical step in her encounter with Christ – the realization and admission of the truth – she is living in sin. She also begins to realize this is a religious, sacred encounter: “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.”
Jesus’ insight into her life without knowing her… reveals her to herself … her acknowledgement of her sin. It was this long life in sinful relationships that ostracized her from her community and forced her out to the well alone at midday.
Of course, Christ has that same insight into each of our lives. We encounter Christ in our predominant faults – where we are weakest, just as the Samaritan woman did. As St. Paul did!
Most all of us believers for our entire lives – but so many of us persist in mediocrity in our response to grace – made peace with many faults/sins, choosing to live a sort of double life. In short, there is tepidity … lukewarmness in our faith and life – just trying to stay comfortable.
Lent and conversion is about moving beyond minimalism and saying “yes” to God – a free choice to embrace God in His totality. Are we living life to its fullest? In abundance? Christ offers the living water to us – His grace, love and hope in the sacraments in prayer and in service. This is how we respond with living faith, also given by God.
It is our choice to ask for the forgiveness and love of God – which is his grace. Jesus notes this when he says to the Samaritan: “you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.” Jesus promises, “the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The living water is grace.
Water is life sustaining and refreshing … Jesus uses water as the image of His life of grace. Sanctifying grace – God’s life in our soul. Divinizes us. Makes us friends with God. Faith hope and charity in our souls. The cause of God’s indwelling which is a fountain “springing up within” always turn to this wellspring within!
In our second reading, Paul confirms Jesus’ promise of “living water” so that the “love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The Samaritan woman’s eyes are opened through grace and she becomes one of the few people to whom Jesus reveals his full identity. She says “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
She came to the well searching for physical water. She discovers living, eternal water (grace) and leaves her former, worldly desires and seeking behind (her jar). For it says, “The woman left her water jar and went into the town…”
She then evangelizes and witnesses to her own encounter. This is operatio sequitur esse – our actions flow from our own encounter with Christ and realization of our need for His grace. Only then can we effectively evangelize. It comes naturally, or shall I say supernaturally, to us.
Now transformed in the new life of grace, the Samaritan and the entire town realize and testify that, “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.” This is how Christianity has spread throughout the world – converted sinners spreading the Good News they have personally encountered.
This brings us to become, as Jesus says “true worshipers (who) will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” How do we become true worshipers? The Spirit is poured into our hearts through our conversion and our believing in Christ and his saving death and resurrection. The truth is our candid admission of our sin and turning to Christ with our whole selves.
Worship in spirit and Truth is living Christ’s new law of love. The life of the converted and transformed.
What can we do as we mark the middle of Lent? We must engage in a life of Prayer – it is absolutely the only way face ourselves and God. It is the only way to overcome obstacles to love union with God.
Where else will you find the grace and strength to overcome? Even Mass – highest prayer and summit of life in the Church but is only efficacious if we bring a disposition of regular encounters of prayer, studying God’s word and the saints and a purified soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation… to the Mass.
Just 15 min . per day and you will notice you begin to look at things differently and God’s will comes to mind more easily. Temptation – you will intuitively turn to God more readily in your heart – that inner spring of living water. By grace, grain by grain, the love of God will grow in you and transform your life.
Holy Eucharist every Sunday and monthly Confession with daily prayer from the heart most ensures salvation and grace and leads us to a happiness of life and heart, a joy and peace the world cannot give. (need to see more at stations, etc.)
Let us encounter Christ in the midst of this Lent, by admitting of our sins, especially our predominant sins. If we ask in faith … He will give us living water… which is His, sanctifying, indwelling grace (the same grace we receive in this Holy Eucharist) so we may worship and live in spirit and truth.