The Woman at the Well

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is the famous story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well (John 4:5-42). In short, Jesus encounters a woman who many would consider to be an outcast, proves that he is the Messiah by telling her things a stranger would not have known about her, and she leaves the encounter so moved by Christ that she runs to the community that cast her out, exclaiming, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.”

Lent is a season for reflection and repentance, and this passage is one of my favorites for this particular theme. The woman at the well first responds to Jesus with her guard up, with almost a sarcastic tone, much like how I would probably respond to a stranger trying to make small talk with me after I’d had a tough day. But what would it look like if I chose instead to respond with kindness, openness, and patience – to both the strangers, and the people closest to me that sometimes get the brunt of my frustration?

Jesus lets the woman know that he is the Lord by telling her he knows about her current relationship status, one that would be marked as scandalous in her community. But he doesn’t do it to embarrass her. He wants her to know that he sees her – for the good and the bad – and he still chooses to interact with her. She doesn’t respond with shame, but with humility, and wonder at God’s love. Usually, when I’m called out on a mistake I have made, my first instinct is to try to justify my actions or explain them away. But what might I be missing if I don’t respond, repent, with the same attitude of humility and vulnerability as the woman at the well? Might I miss out on a chance to see God’s mercy firsthand?

The Responsorial Psalm for this week, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95), is a beautiful reminder of this Gospel message. If we listen, we can hear God’s voice all around us – and hopefully, in the spirit of Lent, that can leave us with open, patient, and vulnerable hearts as we reflect on the mercy and love of God.

Jackie Kruk, Board Member