Third Sunday of Lent Year A March 27th, 2011

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Dear Friends

The story of the Samaritan woman is rich in symbolism and contains spiritual lessons for us.  She is the most unlikely person to have such an encounter with Jesus. There were so many barriers that separated her from Jesus. He was a Jew and she a Samaritan—two communities that lived in bitter enmity. He was a man and she a woman—the opposite genders were not supposed to have any interaction in public. He, a Jewish rabbi and she a Samaritan woman, ostracized by everyone because of her questionable character. She comes to the well at the most unlikely time— the hot noon, when she could be alone, not in the company of other women. She was rejected and shunned, and on her own has to provide for her most basic needs. No father, husband, brother or son was around to look after her. And there is no group of women to share her story, wipe her tears or help her to laugh.

Jesus alone understands this woman’s predicament. He sees her heart and recognizes in her a child of God. He promises her ‘living water’, the stream of the love of God, so that she can live. She is confused, yet she knows that she desperately needs it. During the course of the conversation, the woman recognizes that Jesus is truly the Saviour and goes to tell others about it. “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done! Can he be the messiah?” She is already filled with the Spirit of God. She cannot but share that experience with others. They too come and recognize the Messiah.

The Samaritan woman’s experience of Jesus, is very brief. She has no training and no commission to go and speak about Jesus. She is a reject of society, a woman with no name, no social standing. Yet there is something attractive, compelling and authentic about her witness, so they come out in large numbers to see Jesus and listen to him. She may be what she is, but she bears witness to Jesus, based on her personal experience. She speaks of what she knows. Her focus is on Jesus, not on herself.

The Samaritan woman teaches us how we can come to know, accept and bear witness to Jesus. First, she is honest and admits the truth about her life. Second, she is open and accepts the truth about Jesus. Third, she is enthusiastic and tells others about the truth she has found. We don’t need to be experts. We don’t need to know all, there is to know. All that we need is a personal experience of the Saviour, which we should communicate to others, and leave the results to God.