• Third Sunday of Lent A

    Posted on March 19, 2017 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels



    Introduction:  This Sunday we hear the story of the Samaritan woman at

    the well.  Before considering the story in detail it is important also

    to consider it in the context and sequence of the Gospel.


    We note a great contrast here. Prior to this passage we heard about Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a  pharisee in the south city of Jerusalem in  Judea.  He is a male representative of the Jewish religious establishment.   In today’s Gospel we have a unnamed Samaritan woman.  She is a  representative of an enemy people a foreign woman.   She is surprised that Jesus talks with her.  The Disciples too are surprised that Jesus talks with her. 


    John sets up this story in a dramatic form.  _


    l. WHO:  Divide up into parts:  l) Narrator, 2) Jesus, 3) Samaritan

    woman, 4) disciples, 5) town’s people. 


    2. WHERE:  Three stages:

                              l) main stage (Jesus and Woman) (Jesus and Disciples).

                              2) back stage: town (where disciples go, where

    woman goes).

                              3) middle stage:  townspeople coming to Jesus.



    3. WHAT: (1-4) Introduction: Jesus leaves Judea for Galilee to the

    north. En route he passes through Samaria, where at Shechem he rests at

    noon next to Jacob’s well.

                      (5-26) First dialogue:

                                                  a) living water (7-l5) _

                                                    (a) (7) Jesus, (9) woman, (l0 Jesus)

                                                    (b) (ll-l2) Woman, (l3-l4) Jesus, (l5)


                                                  b) worship in Spirit and truth

                                                     (a) (l6) Jesus, (l7) Woman, (l8) Jesus_

                                                     (b) (l9-20) Woman, (2l-24) Jesus, (25)

    Woman, (26) Jesus.

                      (27-30) Change of scenery: Disciples return, woman left, towns

    people on way coming to Jesus.

                      (31-38) Second dialogue:

                                   a) Jesus’ food

                                       (3l) disciples, (32) Jesus, (33) Disciples.

                                   b) the harvest (34-38) Jesus.


                      (39-42) Conclusion: belief of the Samaritans 


    4. Progression in faith knowledge:  l) (9) Jew, 2) (12) greater than

    Jacob? 3) (19) prophet, 4) (29) could this be the Messiah? 5) (42)

    Savior of the world. 


    5. Things to watch for:

                            l) why at noon? isolation.

                            2) stage directions: disciples leave, woman


                            3) stage prop, left her water jar at well.

                            4) living water, not the water of a cistern or a

    well (dead) but water of a running spring or stream.




                      l) This episode presents the Samaritan Woman as the

    first missionary. (NJBC p. 956) (also Brown, Community of Beloved

    Disciple, Woman in John)

                      2) The Sanaritan woman is offered to us as a person really meeting Jesus: growth in faith, from isolation to faith, to mission.  Jesus a person who knows the heart, is receptive and non-judgmental. 

                      3) Obstacles to meeting persons: prejudices, race,

    family, past disagreements, sex of the person, other things that put us

    off, sarcasm, abrasive, etc. 

                      4) Emphasis of commentators on immorality of woman,

    doesn’t occupy Jesus.  Seeing her raising question of place of worship

    as a way to deflect conversation from her personal life.  So taken by

    Jesus (prophet) that addresses to him the question preoccupying


                      5) As true missionary, helps people to come to Jesus. 

    Her importance decreases as they come into personal contact with Jesus. 

    True disciple and missionary.

                      6) The challenges of the Samaritan woman are ours: to

    come to recognize who it is that speaks when Jesus speaks, and must ask

    Jesus for living waters.

                      7) Jesus never gets a drink from her, but she gets

    living water from him.

                      8) Our faith journey like Samaritan woman’s includes

    questions:  Greater than Jacob?  Could this be the Messiah?

                      9) Emotions of Samaritan woman: suspicion, fear (9),

    to almost brassy defiance (ll-l2), to a complex mix of intelligent

    curiosity and blank misunderstanding, to half-hearted deviousness (l5),

    to total & selfless enthusiasm and commitment.


    Development of Homily: Samaritan woman.


    l) Go through the various names or titles that the woman uses for Jesus.

    2) Go through the various attitudes the woman reveals at the different

    moments of the encounter, meeting. 

    3) What does it mean for us?

        a) In life we have many different meetings every day, the majority

    of them are routine, superficial.  Good morning.  How are you?  I’m

    fine, how are you?  I’m fine.  Have a good day.  I hope that all of us

    have some more profound meetings in our life.  

        b) The meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is more than a

    superficial or routine meeting.  Why?  What accounts for this?

           (a) it isn’t as though this meeting is without obstacles.  What

    are some of the obstacles here?  Prejudice, racial (that person is an

    anglo, that person is a Mexican, Bosnia Herzegovina (Serbs and Muslims),

    South Africa (black, white), etc. etc. , sexual (you can’t reason with

    her she’s just a dumb woman/  You can’t talk with him, he’s so macho.). 

    Misunderstandings (a word means one thing to one person and something

    different to another).  Getting beyond attitudes that might put us off,

    her brassiness, confrontational style, abrasiveness. 

           (b) the difference between a monologue and dialogue.  Here we

    have a genuine exchange.  Jesus speaks, woman listens, woman speaks,

    Jesus listens.  Genuine exchange.


        c) If our human exchanges are superficial, it is probable that our

    exchanges with God are superficial. Someone has said that the depth of

    our human meetings, encounters with others is the measure of the depth

    of our encounter with God. 

           (a) the danger of speaking always when we pray.  We do all the


           (b) but to be quiet and listen to God is also dangerous, we may

    hear that God is calling us to something in our life that needs to be

    changed, some conversion that we are being called to.

           (c) the woman is willing to change.

           (d) notice that the woman goes from no faith, to questioning, to

    some faith, to committed faith.  Her experience with Jesus leads her

    beyond herself to tell other people about Jesus.  She becomes the first

    missionary in John’s Gospel. 

           (e) the challenges of the Samaritan woman are ours:  come to

    recognize who it is that speaks when Jesus speaks and we must ask Jesus

    for living water.

           (f) each of us has the ability to be truly present to another

    person.  This is very often an unused ability.  When we have met a

    person who radiates this ability we become changed in the encounter. The

    kiss of peace at Mass can be another chance meeting, carelessly or

    routinely dealt with or we can look at the other person and with the

    eyes of faith see a person of extraordinary possibilities (una mirada de

    fe) and have a different kind of exchange.

           (g) we won’t meet someone by a well this week but maybe at a

    water cooler, or desk or locker, or some other ordinary place.

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