Third Sunday of Lent A
March 19, 2017 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT “A”
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
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.