One beautiful aspect of Catholicism is how the Gospel readings repeat themselves, year after year. This means I have a chance to contemplate them anew.
Last night at Mass, the homilist mentioned an aspect of the encounter between Christ and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well that I never had considered: She was at the well in the middle of the day. Imagine walking from town in the blazing Middle Eastern sun at noon. Why did she do this? What does this say about the rest of us?
The woman chose midday because she was filled with fear – fear of condemnation from her neighbors about her sin. So instead of trekking to the well in the morning, as most would do, she heads out in the noon sun, where, she hopes, no one will see her. How often do we do this? How often do we worry our weaknesses and failings will drive others away from us?
And yet, filled with weakness, as we all are, she encounters Christ. What does he do? He doesn’t see her sins in order to condemn her, but rather to accept her and show her her destiny.
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Encountering Christ provokes her so greatly she forgets her physical thirst; she runs back to her village without her jar, casting aside her shame over her sins in the joy she has found in this encounter.
As I walk through Lent, mindful of my failings, I hope to remember the risen Christ I encounter daily gazes with love at me, with all my flaws. He’s here to lift us up and offer water from a well that will satisfy our deepest longings.