John 4: 5-16, 26, 39-42
To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
“Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Saviour of the world!”
‘A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water…’ and it is interesting what was happened later on when she met Jesus. What we read in this gospel account was not acceptable to the Jews back then. Jesus, a Jew, was found talking with the Samaritans? Jews and Samaritans cannot go together for they are enemies because of their differences in the practice of their beliefs. Jews openly looked down on the Samaritans for they were not really worshippers of the one true God, Yahweh.
Why did the Samaritan woman come to draw water at noon, the hottest time of the day?
What are the places in my life where I would be embarrassed if other people knew some of the things I have done, that I should not have done. Also the places where I avoid interaction with others?
What are the noonday wells of my life?
Imagine yourself as the woman in this passage.
Jesus approaches you and tries to reveal his thirst to you, but you put him off. You are not worthy. It won’t work. When he offers to satisfy your thirst, you put him off. You are convinced he can’t satisfy your needs, at least not at this well and without a bucket.
How do I put Jesus off?
Is it with excuses, problems, or barriers? Examples might include saying, “I don’t have time,” “I haven’t done this before,” “My life is too complicated,” or “I don’t know how to find you. My life is such a mess!
She is a symbol of the Church not yet made righteous. Righteousness follows from the conversation. She came in ignorance, she found Christ, and he enters into conversation with her. Let us see what it is about, let us see why a Samaritan woman came to draw water. The Samaritans did not form part of the Jewish people. They were foreigners. The fact that she came from a foreign people is part of the symbolic meaning, for she is a symbol of the Church. The Church was to come from the Gentiles, of a different race from the Jews.
When Jesus shows the woman that he knows her, she comes to understand she is in the presence of someone special – perhaps the One she has thirsted for all her life. That is Jesus’ power and by his openness she experienced a positive relationship with him. She recognised that he is a unique person and she believed in him.
We must then recognise ourselves in her words and in her person, and with her, give our own thanks to God. She was a symbol, not the reality. She foreshadowed the reality, and the reality came to be. She found faith in Christ, who was using her as a symbol to teach us what was to come. She came then to draw water. She had simply come to draw water; in the normal way of any man or woman.
What is this water that he will give if not the water spoken of in Scripture: With you is the fountain of life? How can those feel thirst, who will drink deeply from the abundance in your house?
Jesus is life. The Samaritan woman had met and recognized the source of life, the water that refreshes and makes us live forever. God is the source and fountain of all life, and Jesus preached and taught them that God and God alone can give them the water that will quench their thirst forever.
We are like the Samaritan woman in the gospel for we always thirst for water that gives life, for God. We thirst for everything that we need, like we long for peace of mind and heart, we long for a good life and better future. We thirst for real joy, which is inner peace. We thirst for silence and rest and to be freed from pains and disturbances. But we are never fully satisfied as we are always longing for something. We always thirst for something that would last. And only in God we can find that. Let us think about our dreams, that we have had in the past. Did you achieve at least one of them? Each of us wants to do good things but we sometimes are not able to do them, because of our inabilities or limitations.
Do I let Jesus show me that he knows and understands me?
Grace will come when I realise that I have been at the well for a long time and have long been thirsty. When I feel and understand this new thirst, this longing, I search for and find the Water that will satisfy that thirst. When Jesus reveals himself to me, I can see who I am, a sinner in great need of him as my Saviour. As I get to know Jesus and to love him, I can then learn to trust in him. I will rejoice and tell the whole world. Jesus’ compassion, love, justice and kindness will always help us to put our life, our thoughts, our plans into his hands, because he is able to help us in every part of our lives. Have you ever asked Jesus to take over in your life, to help you? You haven’t? If not, take time to do it today. Do it now!
If we are filled by God, we can also be a source of life for others and share its freshness and fullness. Like the Samaritans in our gospel, they heard the preaching of Jesus, they listened and believed in Him. The Samaritans had recognized God in Jesus, the Son of God. Do we recognize and accept Jesus as the one who can give us water that would not make us thirsty again? We too, can be like the Samaritan woman who emptied her bucket so that God’s word may fill it. Have we become water that sustains life for others?
Let us reflect and ask ourselves:
Do I accept Jesus as the only living water who can give me life and sustain my life?
Do I allow God to rule every part of my life?
Fr Roman Szczypa SDB
Almighty and ever-living God, you are the water of life that fills and refreshes us always. May our faith be always life-giving like the water that the Samaritan woman discovered and drawn from Jesus, the Saviour of the world. May we also become life-giving and life-nurturing to everyone we meet.
Let us pray for those people who are searching for the meaning of life and peace of mind. Let us pray for all those who are working for the defence of life and peace – building especially in war stricken countries and communities.
Only you know how hard life has been for me.
Only you have seen each moment of my day and night.
Only you feel my pain and understand my discomfort.
Only you are beside me through my grief and sorrow.
Only you have been within each moment to comfort me.
O Lord, break through the loneliness of my suffering.
You have encountered sorrow and laid a glorious path
Of hope, healing and the promise of heaven in my heart.
We ask this through Christ or Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever.