View all Gospel Reflections |
The Woman at the Well
Third Sunday of Lent
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. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but 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.” The 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.” Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The 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.’For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But 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. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “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.” At 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?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.” Many 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.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and 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.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come to the well to drink of your living water so that I may not thirst for the things of this world but for your will only. Hydrate my soul with your grace, the source of life that fulfills all other desires.
- Living Water: How is that when we drink of the Lord’s living water we no longer thirst? To thirst is human nature. To thirst means we have human needs that require quenching. In our spiritual reality, however, the more we drink of the Lord’s living water–in prayer, in the Mass, before the Eucharist in Adoration, marveling at his creation in our loved ones and in nature–the more our desire for the Lord increases while the desire for worldly things decreases. Only the Lord’s living water–pure grace–can make that transformation in our soul.
- Leave the Water Jar: A water jar is a heavy vessel and, when filled with water, it is that much more difficult to carry. Reflecting on this can help us to realize that some of the very things we depend on daily, even those that are deemed “good for us” may actually be burdens too heavy to carry. When we feel overwhelmed by our “to dos” or even by the ordinary responsibilities of our vocation in life, we need the grace to see what’s weighing us down and have the courage to leave those water jars behind as we fall into the Lord’s capable arms.
- Reaping and Sowing: Like a vain and prideful child we sometimes want to lay claim to our work and shout, “Look at me! Come see what I did!” But the Lord shows us that it is not we who work but he who works through us. Each one of us is merely a link in a chain of souls who reap and sow for the kingdom. In the words of St. Frances de Sales, Lord, help us to “be who we are and be that well so that we may give glory to the master craftsman whose handiwork we are.”
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, giver of life-giving water, help me to drink from your well. Each day, I want to attach more to you and heavenly things, and detach from the material world and its short-lived joys.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will check my attitude about the burdens in my life by taking ten minutes to examine the “burden behind the burden” as Fr. Mike Schmitz identifies them.
For Further Reflection: Five-minute video: What’s Your Burden by Fr. Mike Schmitz.
written by Marjorie Davin