Third Sunday of Lent: John 4:5-42

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“Woman at the Well” Charcoal: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

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Dear Followers of Jesus,

Today’s gospel (John 4:5-42) begins with a woman coming to a well at high noon. She is there in broad daylight because she does not want to be seen. This irony is because the other women would come to the well early in the morning and she did not want to be part of that community because of her sexual history. She comes to Jacob’s well hoping to retrieve her water and then be on with her day. Instead, something amazing happens.

Jesus waits at the well for her. His interaction with her is one of the most beautiful encounters we have in the gospels. He straightforwardly tells her all that she has done in her life. He becomes the water that she seeks. He becomes the refuge, the place of hope, the encounter of deep and living water. Jesus tells her that he is the living water that she seeks, the source of forgiveness and salvation.

Jesus reminds her that she has had five husbands. She seeks the intimacy that is far from those bonds. She seeks the loving and saving relationship with the Messiah. The sun is high in the sky, yet she was in darkness. She seeks water, yet she is thirsting for so much more, for salvation itself. She is an outsider, a Samaritan, yet she seeks a new heart in the wellspring of Jesus’ love.

The woman then goes to the village and tells everyone what she has experienced. Imagine people believing this outsider, this woman, and this person with an untrusting reputation. Imagine what people would have first thought hearing what she had to say. Yet this powerless woman, shunned in the community, tells people that she encountered the person of Jesus. And they believed her!

This gospel has been proclaimed in the Church as part of the preparation for people desiring the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter. Since the early Church, this story is our story. We all wait to encounter the person of Jesus with such intimacy and love. We all wait within our hearts to hear from his voice everything that we have ever done. We wait for his tenderness and mercy, his desire to be among his people and share the depths of his love for all people.

Here are a few things to pray about this week:

The woman at the well encountered Jesus. Our lives of prayer offer us this same encounter. Pray for such a healing encounter. Pray that your life may change from inviting Jesus into your life. Pray that you may have the courage to remain with him.

The woman at the well testified to the people of the village about Jesus. Pray that you may remain in his love. How can you share with people your experience of Jesus Christ? We cannot move forward in the Church today unless we know Jesus and have the courage to offer his love to others. Pray for those who will be receiving the Easter sacraments.

Blessings in your encounter with Jesus,

Fr. Ron

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