Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Woman at the Well

We all know how important water is to our everyday survival.  More than coffee, tea, pop or whatever else we may drink to get us going, we need water.  Water refreshes, water cleanses, water soothes us when we feel stressed.  Sitting by a lake or a stream or the ocean can bring peace to us. Rain brings a new life to the land.  Water is even more important in places where it is not always plentiful.  When we lived in California, drought was never a word you wanted to hear in a place that basically had two seasons…wet and dry.
The same was true for the holy land, and so the importance of the well.  For the people of Sychar, the well was a place where people came, met, talked, took their water from the well, a special well, the well of their ancestor Jacob.  It was here that the Samaritan woman met Jesus. The talk turned to…water.   “Give me a drink” says Jesus.
Unheard of.  Jewish men did not ask strange Samaritan women for a drink.  In fact, a Jewish man would not ask any Samaritan for a drink because Samaritans were thought to be impure. But Jesus simply asks this woman to come forward  and meet his request.
Isn’t this what is happening today?  Isn’t Christ coming to the elect and candidates here and seeking them as he sought this woman?   Doesn’t he seek all of  us during  Lent?  We often think we are seeking God, but isn’t the other way around?  Isn’t God seeking  us?  The Samaritan woman is like us, because ,like us, she feels unworthy to speak to a Jewish man.  We sometimes think we’re unworethy, too.   So Jesus makes the first move.
What does the conversation turn to?  Water.  “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.  Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst, a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   The Samaritan woman wants the water, this water of life.  He has touched her where he touches us, in the empty longing of our hearts for all that is good, a good that can come only when we are in union with God.  The elect seek this water, candidates seek it more fully, and the rest of us keep coming back to the well for this water of life.
It is no accident that what comes next is the revelation of the sins of the Samaritan woman.  Jesus reveals to her what she already knows.  She has not one husband, she has had five.  And the one she lives with now is not her husband at all.   Jesus knows all this and yet he does not reject her.  He is seemingly unchanged as he still offers her the water of life.   There is no condemnation of her for what she has done.  That’s not what Jesus doed. When He seeks us and we respond, one of the very first things that happens to us when we recognize him is that our own sinfulness arises and becomes clear to us.  That is part of what is happening here.  More importantly, .Jesus recognizes our sinfulness and loves us anyway.  This is the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation.  That we recognize what Jesus already  knows, the sin that keeps us from his love. When we come to him and bring it to him, he not only knows it, he takes if from us. He wants that clear connection to our hearts so we can love him.  Later in this Gospel when he tells the disciples that “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me.” This is exactly what he he means.  It is through Jesus that we see the love of the Father and recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That’s his work.  God’s love is not a passive love where he sits back and waits for us to prove to him that we deserve his love.  No, in Jesus, the Truth, he comes and pursues us.  And in the Spirit we are continually fed and led home, to the place the Father has saved for us.   What does Jesus tell us about this?  To you all, elect, candidates and baptized he says “the Father seeks such people to worship him.  God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”   So we enter into a loving life  through Christ, fed by the Spirit that brings us home to the Father.   It starts with the flowing water of baptism and continues to flow forever if we continue to respond to God’s call and continue to come to the well.  Like the Samaritan woman our thirst will be satisfied when we come to the water of life.

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