3rd SUNDAY OF LENT (A)
Sunday 12 March 2023
Jn 4:5-42 [Brief Version: 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42]
“A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he? Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done’.”
(John 4:7, 10, 28-29, 39)
When Jesus learns that the Pharisees had heard that He had been baptising, He leaves Judaea and heads towards Galilee. The Evangelist writes that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria, but this certainly wasn’t a geographical necessity! Moreover, Samaria was an unfriendly region for the Jews. Therefore, the necessity is born from a desire, to bring the message of salvation to everyone, ‘enemies’ included.
Almost the entire fourth chapter of John’s Gospel is dedicated to Jesus’ encounter in Samaria with a local woman. The dialogue that emerges from this atypical encounter is an inexhaustible source of meaning. It shows Jesus as an evangeliser, a model for us. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2.Cor 8:9).
The Samaritan woman sees Jesus as:
- a Jewish man (v. 9), so an enemy
- lord (v. 11), not as a Christological title, but as a courteous greeting of respect
- perhaps even greater than ‘our’ father Jacob (v. 12)
- prophet (v. 19
- could he be the Christ? (v. 29).
And then this is Jesus’ response to her:
- Give me a drink (v. 7): Jesus’ thirst is not only physical. It is a thirst for love!
- “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (v. 10). Jesus doesn’t respond as the moralist. He places the emphasis on the gift of God and not on the ‘you must’!
- “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done’” (v. 39).
We learn from Jesus, the evangeliser par excellence, that without love (thirst) for others we will never leave our house, and without thirst we won’t overcome prejudice. We shouldn’t insist on moral arguments, which will inevitably lead to ‘you must’. Instead, we should concentrate on the gift of God, who has the capacity to set free, break chains, and truly satisfy our thirst. By doing this, the other will not only welcome and accept Jesus, but will immediately give testimony and bear witness.
Authentic evangelisation, in fact, is not concerned only with evangelising the other, but with making them evangelisers!