Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Today’s episode of Jesus’ encounter and conversation with the Samaritan woman near Jacob’s well is a vivid description of the itinerary of our Christian life. This itinerary consists in three (3) levels: the encounter with Jesus, the finding of answers to our questions in life, and the giving witness to Jesus. Let us reflect on each level.
The Encounter with Jesus. It was unusual for this Samaritan woman to fetch water at “about noon” because women normally draw water in the early morning or the late hour in the afternoon. Perhaps, this woman chose this hour to avoid meeting anyone. Probably, her marital situation prompted her to avoid such encounters.
But then, she met Jesus unexpectedly. How many times our encounter with Jesus is unexpected? We bumped into someone who invited us to a prayer meeting, and there, we decided to change our lives and follow the Lord. But sometimes, our encounter with the Lord is occasioned by some negative experiences: death of a loved one, broken relationships, economic crisis, family problems.
In the First Reading, we see how the Israelites complained against the Lord and against Moses because they did not have anything to drink. “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” Experiencing discomfort, the people immediately forgot the miraculous deeds of the Lord at the Red Sea. Oftentimes, our crisis in life makes us forget God’s providence. Like the Israelites, we also ask: “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”
Yet, one thing is certain: even in our trials and difficulties, in our problems, we can and we must encounter the Lord. The Lord is present not only in prosperity; He is more present in adversity. Oftentimes, we just forget about Him and neglect Him. That is why, we need to go to the well: the Sacraments. At noontime of life, when we feel thirsty and our soul is dry, let us go to the source of living water: Jesus Christ, who is ever ready to quench our thirst.
Finding Answers to our Questions. “Who are we?”, “Where do we come from?”, “What are we here for?”, “What is the meaning of life?”, “Where do we go from here?”, “Is there life after death?” “Does God exist?” “If God is good, why the evil in the world?” You may add more questions. But where will you go to find answers to your questions? To the media? To TV? To movies? To Facebook?
Why don’t you try to listen to the Church? Why don’t you open the Bible? Why don’t you try to browse the Catechism? Why don’t you try to pay attention to people whose lives have become meaningful because they have decided to follow Christ? Why not try to converse with Jesus like the Samaritan woman? Try it. Perhaps, you will find the answers to your questions, just like the Samaritan woman did.
Our basic human questions are legitimate. Our longing for answers and meanings in life is natural. But oftentimes, we are wrong in thinking that only the water that the world gives can quench our thirst. Jesus said: “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”.
Have you ever wondered why when you decided to accept Jesus in your heart even your hardest trial became bearable? Because you have found meaning to your pain! Have you ever wondered why even in your times of prosperity, without Jesus, everything – even your comfort, your security – becomes meaningless? Because without Jesus, there is emptiness. Without faith in Jesus, there is a vacuum in life that no worldly good – whether money, fame, or power – can fill.
If you have not discovered it yet, sooner or later you will. You will understand what St. Paul meant in the Second Reading when he wrote: “We have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith, to this grace in which we stand”. For even if we are surrounded with prosperity, economic gain, fame, and all what the world can offer, if we are not at peace with God, if we are not reconciled with God, there is still emptiness; all that we have is meaningless!
Witnessing to Christ. After our encounter with Jesus and after finding meaning to our life, the natural consequence is to share Jesus to others: to give witness to the joy that we have found. Witnessing to Christ simply means letting other people see for themselves the joy of encountering Jesus. The neighbors of the Samaritan woman said to her: “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”.
We, Catholics, must give witness today of our faith. How do we do this? By letting people see and hear “for themselves” how our lives have been changed by our encounter daily with Jesus, in the Sacraments, in our workplace, in our family life, in our choice of entertainment. When people “experience themselves”, when they encounter Jesus themselves through our witnessing, this will create a ripple effect. We make Jesus known and loved by the world.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us to encounter Jesus, to let Jesus quench our thirsts for life’s meaning, and to give witness to Jesus among our friends. Amen.