1. Jesus and the Samaritan woman
Movement and counter-movements
Encouraging movements in the direction of deeper life “in-God” will also be to engage with the counter-movements which will pull pilgrims away from what is life giving, growth oriented, healing, and restoring; there can be both attraction and resistance. In the gospel encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman we witness these movements. There is attraction towards Jesus and what he has to offer. There is also resistance. And yet, we are witnesses to a remarkable breaking through of kingdom life as the woman and many of her villagers come into relationship with Jesus.
Take a moment to reflect on these two images.
Reflective reading: John 4:7–26, NRSV.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 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.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”
The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
Follow your first reading by an unhurried time of indwelling—bringing the whole of your person into this encounter as you “inhabit” both the woman and Jesus.
During your second reading, notice the key word, phrase, metaphor or image that is resonating with something within you. Stay with this and be prayerfully attentive and awake to what the Holy Spirit is stirring within you.
What is beginning to resonate and stir within me . . .
The third reading is presented in the form of a dialogue. During this reading notice where your own story resonates with that if the Samaritan woman. Notice her movements towards Jesus and her movements away. Be open to such movements being revealed within your own experience.
Dialogue. . .A thin veil of resistance flung around a residue of integrity
Coming upon a man resting by the well from which she needed to draw water, the Samaritan woman flung a protective veil around herself to create as much distance as possible. He was obviously Jewish and could treat her like a dog. When he condescended to speak to her, she was caught completely unaware.
‘Would you give me a drink of water?’
That he asked something of her rang warning bells. Men always had mixed motives! She should rise up, put all the religious, cultural and gender barriers back in his face, and never let him know he had the upper hand! And yet, something was beginning to stir within her . . .
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