How fitting it is that in this moment of our Lenten journey that we find ourselves with our Lord in the encounter with woman at the well. During this month of March as we honor and remember women in a special way and their contribution to our lives as a nation as well as people of faith. I used as a source of my own study and reflection the 2007 volume #7 of “In Dialogue with the Word.”. SVD publication from the Generalate in Rome.
In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John Jesus is traveling with His disciples through Samaria, the northern part of the kingdom, and the come upon the site of Jacobs well. The disciples having gone off for provisions leave Jesus at the well and He is thirsty. A women arrives at will and it is mid-day. The hottest time of the day when people would normally be resting and staying out of heat. This becomes the context for our reflection on the woman and the transformation of her life having encountered Jesus.
There is much weighing down on this women and cause for pain. Not only the physical weight of a hot heavy jar in the noon day heat, but more profoundly this peripheral woman is an outcast and greatly despised by her community. It is out of shame and embarrassment that she is at the well where she could retrieve water unnoticed without the murmur and gossip of their people of her village.
Jesus in his dialogue with the woman reveals her true self and pain as he asks her for a drink of water. She responds to Jesus’ request “ How can you and Jew ask me a Samaritan and a women for a drink?”. She is unaware that He is about to transform her life and free her of the weight and burden that she carries. The shame and pain that has left her on the peripheries of her community. Jesus asks about her husband, although she speaks truthfully and responds that she has no husband Jesus cuts to chase goes deeper and speaks her truth. She has had five husbands and the man she is living with is not her husband.
It is here that the dialogue begins, “The dialogue between Jesus and the woman can serve as a mirror to help consider more carefully how we conduct prophetic dialogue. Jesus is the one who takes the initiative and seeks conversation with the woman. For quieter sometime, however, they talk on two different levels, hence there is no understanding. Although the woman is a faith seeker, her thinking is wholly taken up with everyday concerns. Jesus want to proclaim a religious message, yet he enters fully into the conversation about the personal life situation of the woman.”
“In our prophetic dialogue- in our mission to others but also within our communities do everyday concerns have a place? Do we take seriously the longing for liberation from the troubles of life and for genuine relationships?”. This must be the process of the Synodal Church to allow the dialogue to include the challenges and hardship of life. By not dominating the dialogue we allow for the voice of the Spirit of God to be heard.
In shedding the light of truth the women is now disposed to truly hear and understand Jesus as He offers her Living water so that she no longer has to return to this well in shame and pain any longer. As Jesus reveals his true identity she becomes the first person to whom the revelation of the Messiah is given. She leaves her bucket at the well. The Samaritan women becomes a model of a true missionary and disciple. Transformed by her encounter with the Lord, she not only tells her family rather she goes forth to the very ones that despised her and speaks her truth and the veracity of Jesus and what he offers.
Each of us carries the heavy burden of our buckets. We are women and men who experience pain, brokenness and shame. The burden and the weight of abuse and misuse can leave us feeling alone to carry our burden alone. Like the Samaritan women Jesus cuts to chase he knows our in most thoughts, He knows our fears and knows are truth. Not to condemn us but to set us free. We too must leave our bucket at the well. Come out of hiding and shame, be free from the condemnation and judgement of others, allow the life giving spring of water that is Christ Himself to well up within us. Let’s go out to the peripheries and share what ahold has done for us.