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March 4, 2018 - Our Jar, His Well

Third Sunday of Lent – Year A Readings

Scripture Readings 

The story of the Samaritan woman is narrated by John as a personal conversion story. Even though John tells it as a personal story, he does not tell us the name of the woman. Perhaps John was being intentional. This way, this is the story of every person. Her story can be your story and mine as well. Like the Samaritan woman, we all have a jar. In this jar we keep that which is most precious to us – family, friends, job, home, possessions, hobbies. Sometimes, this jar might be empty. The jar describes us – it is the sum of all that we are. That day, the Samaritan woman came to fill her empty jar with water. The irony is that Jesus does not merely fill her jar. Rather, Jesus led her to the well. The jar… she left that at the feet of Jesus. What does this story mean for me? What could it mean for you? Three things: 

 1. Leaving Our Jar at the Well. Our jar is what gives meaning to our lives. Our families, friends, profession, labor, possessions and interests… these give us meaning. But they do not save us. Our jar does not save us! Salvation is at the well. We might mistake the jar for the well. We might think that what we make of our lives is what saves us. This story tells us that it is what we allow God to make of us that saves us. It is so easy for me to think that is it my priesthood that saves me. It does not. It is God who saves me/us. Without Christ, our jar is but a jar. After all, on the day we die we must leave our jar behind. The story of the Samaritan woman invites us to take our lives and lay it at the feet of Jesus. Today lay your jar at the well. 

2. Becoming a people of Reconciliation. As I said earlier, John does not give a name to the Samaritan woman.  He was telling a greater story - the story of reconciliation of peoples. This does not become clear until the end. At the end, an entire town comes to Jesus and the Samaritan woman fades into the background. The Biblical story is a divided story until Jesus comes. He is the reconciler par excellence. In him heaven and earth reconcile, God and humanity reconcile, peoples and peoples reconcile. The enmity between Jews and Samaritan was long, bitter, and destructive. Yet, on that day two people brought centuries old enmity to an end. The woman went to her town and invited an entire people to come and meet Jesus. She did not care that he was Jew or that her people were Samaritan. Enmities are rife today in the very place that Jesus and the Samaritan woman reconciled their peoples and across the globe. Perhaps you and I cannot solve the Israeli and Palestinian issue, or the American and Russian issue, or the Catholic and Protestant issue. But we can reconcile the relationships in our lives that stand in need of reconciliation. We can speak the language of reconciliation when people around us become divisive and offensive. The story of the Samaritan woman invites us to be the reconciler that she was!

3. The Waters of Baptism. The reason that we hear the Samaritan woman’s story on the third Sunday of Lent is because of the elect who are preparing for baptism this upcoming Easter vigil. Both in the first reading and the gospel reading, the water that the Israelites and the Samaritan woman were thirsty for is the waters of baptism. The point of the story is that human thirst ends at the well with the waters of baptism. While the elect look forward to the waters of baptism, what about those of us who are already baptized? The readings this weeks are telling us not to be like the people of Israel in the desert. They were a liberated people yet conducted themselves as enslaved. After being baptized, I hope we are not living like an enslaved people. After reaching the well, I hope we are not still putting our faith in the jar! Right here, right now, what has my baptism done to me? How is the fact that I have been to the well impact my jar?  

Let us pray and reflect about this in the third week of Lent.  

- Fr. Satish Joseph