Because of Jacob’s Well

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.

  • Julie Cragon

    This is definitely one of my all time favorite stories because it is filled with something new for me every year. I love the thought of bringing that empty jar and being filled by Christ with so much more than just water. I love that she leaves that empty jar, that emptiness. I love that He knows us so well and He loves us despite all that He knows. And I too love that she goes in the middle of the day when there is no one there to condemn the way she lives, the choices she has made. No one there to judge her and yet He is there as He is here and yes He "will satisfy our every longing". Thank you Allison.

  • Allison

    Julie: You put it better than I can, as usual! Thanks for commenting. Have a great day.

  • Sarah Harkins

    Wow, I've never considered these things. This Gospel reading has a lot more in than meets the eye. Thanks for sharing Julie and Allison!

  • arthur

    When we forget, we do whatever we think necessary to hide the fruits of our "self-ish" nature. It might be leaving one's home, as above, hoping not to be seen, or it might be speaking or behaving righteously in plain sight – when something more like silence or contemplation would have been a teacher's instruction. The point is: that's what we do!! We are so wonderfully imperfect! Personally, I try to keep it simple to the point of spiritual infancy. Our creator – my creator – God – gave us a few very simple rules. No, even more. Just think about that for a minute. In an instant, it was all there, finally, spoken. I was told to love God and my fellow men and women. I was told that God loves us, in fact, that was how all was actually created. I could go on and on. Right now, though, keeping it simple, I'm smiling peacefully because I still have many fears and I often feel so spiritually sleazy. But I try not to forget! His love is so simple but I will never be perfect. But for God's Grace…