LISTENING TO THE LIVES OF OTHERS

Three weeks into Lent, the liturgy invites us to take a faith journey in the company of a courageous outsider, an unnamed woman from a despised religious group.
A woman of Samaria comes to draw water from the well of Jacob, Israel’s great ancestor in faith. She belongs in a long line of women whose lot as women is to undertake the burdensome, often dangerous, daily toil of carrying water so that their families might simply survive. Jesus asks the woman for a drink and elicits a bewildered response. Her response provides the opportunity for Jesus to move into an extended and constantly deepening exchange in which the woman proves herself a knowledgeable and worthy dialogue partner.
The pursuit of water, a key baptismal symbol in the gospel tradition, provides the catalyst for her journey to faith in Jesus as the Messiah or Christ and her engagement in the mission of proclaiming the good news to her people.
At the outset, the woman views Jesus simply as a Jew who breaks with established custom by asking her for water. She comes to accept him as the provider of living water. Jesus understands her life story and opens up the way for her to accept him as a prophet. She risks sharing her own convictions about the locus of worship and is gifted with new understanding and Jesus’ further self-disclosure. She leaves her water jar behind and brings others to faith in Jesus as Messiah and saviour of the world.

Excerpts from the Gospel reflection written by Sr. Veronica Dawson, rsm. www.catholicrelegiosaustralia.org.