For What Do You Thirst?

A stranger approaches Jacob’s Well at high noon. He is tired and thirsty. There he meets a woman who has come to draw water. Something happens between them. . . . The original readers of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman must have felt themselves on familiar ground. The scene and characters would have wakened resonances to another well-side story, a romance, lodged deep insider the community’s memory: In Genesis the sojourner Jacob comes to a well at “high day” where he beholds his kinswoman Rachel and, Genesis adds wryly, her father’s sheep. He waters the sheep. “Then Jacob kissed Rachel. and wept aloud.” Boy meets girl; boy kisses girl; boy and girl eventually (with a huge assist from Leah) create a family of tribes, the children of Israel, that’s the way a love story is supposed turn out.

In John’s version, of course, the story takes a very different turn. From the first sharply spoken word, the conversation assumes the character of a confrontation. He is a teacher from above, brimming with heavenly wisdom; she is a woman of the world who by now has become hardened to the jokes in her village. Like Jesus, she too is thirsty, but thirsty for something she cannot name. What could these two have to say to one another?

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman turns out to be a love story after all, for only one who loves you knows you as you are and not as you pretend to be. Only one who loves you knows your deepest desires. Only one who loves you can look at your past without blinking.

Filled to the brim with new insight and life, the Samaritan woman runs to the townspeople to proclaim the identity of this amazing Man she encountered.

We encounter and hear Jesus everyday in the goodness and honesty of others, through our Lenten practices that bring us closer to Jesus and each other as well as the truth about ourselves.

Filled to the brim with new insight and life, we share in the very life of Jesus, proclaiming his presence by the very way we live.