Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

Posted on March 10, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

An ad in the local newspaper read: “For sale, sleeveless wedding dress, white, size 8, veil included. Worn once, by mistake.”

That woman of Samaria could have said “worn 5 times by mistake.”

Her marriages could have been because of economic and social reasons rather than for lustful ones, although the context suggests she has a checkered past.

On an allegorical level, her five husbands represent the five false gods of the Assyrians that Samaria adopted when they were conquered as described in 2 Kings 17:30ff.  Thus, symbolically the five husbands stand for the apostasy of her people.

Only Christ can give our hearts meaning and purpose (John 4:14). Jesus is the life-giving, never-ending water we are so thirsty for (John 7:38) beginning with baptism by which the Holy Spirit works His miracle of regeneration.

Lent means coming face to face with God. We can’t grow spiritually if we are hiding out from God in confession.

Jesus exposes her minimizing of her five marriages and current relationship. John 4:16-19

We won’t get better unless we admit and face everything and recover.

The lesson for us is that if we are not revealing our sin in confession, then there is no forgiveness and cleansing. Healing comes by rigorous honesty. Evangelization and soul-winning requires exposing sin.

Without this conversion step, we cannot stay saved nor know the love of God nor lead anybody to do the same.

In some medieval maps there is the phrase, “Here be dragons” (Latin: hic sunt dracones) which is printed on sections of the map to warn of dangerous or unexplored territories.

This woman faced her dragons. She is no longer hiding out.

She responded by calling Jesus a prophet.

God showed her what closeness looked like. He knew all about her, and still cared deeply for her, thereby banishing all loneliness from her heart. The same happens in a support group. He saw the best in me and the worst and still accepts me.

As an evangelist, she does not say to the townspeople: “Come, see a man who told me all the things I am, but “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.”

Core Moments in Counseling: Women at the Well by Jeanne Stevenson Moessner, Sewanee Theological Review 36:3 (1993).

Speak kindly to those you meet at the well, like at a convenience store, at a sports event, the gym.

Lastly, the word worship appears ten times in five verses.

The worship of God will no longer be limited geographically, in Jerusalem or Samaria. Worship now centers in the person of Christ. Jesus is the temple for the true worship of the Father. He is the new holy place.” To worship the Father in Spirit and truth is to recognize that the Father can only be known through His Son.

Jesus is Himself the proper object of worship. Regarding the Eucharist, in the early second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “Let no man deceive himself: if anyone be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. (Eph. 5)

God is seeking people who will worship him in the way God wants, “in spirit and in truth” (4:24). Such worshippers surrender their lives to God, making God the organizing principle of their lives and receiving the salvation that comes with the divinizing gift of the Holy Spirit freely given to all who follow Jesus (1:12-13).

Source: Teresa Okure, Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:1-42) in Africa, Theological Studies, 70 no 2 Jun 2009, p 401-418