Everybody knows the story. It is a story of hunger and thirst. It is a story of being broken and being judged. It is a story of redemption and belonging.
It was the longest conversation of Jesus ever recorded. It was longer than his talks to any of his followers, his disciples and his family. In the eyes and ears of the people at that time, it was also wrong.
It was wrong for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan. It was wrong for a Jewish male to converse with a Samaritan woman. And it was wrong for a Jew to drink from a Samaritan’s cup. Wrong race, wrong gender, and wrong religion.
For whatever is wrong, Jesus made it right. If he did not talk to a Samaritan, how would we ever understand that racism is a form of discrimination and hatred? If he did not converse with a woman, how would we ever appreciate that we are complementary in gender. And if he did not offer to drink from the cup of the Samaritan, how would we ever realize that nothing makes us unclean except those that come from within?
The good Lord is not impressed or depressed because of who we are, what we are or what we might have to offer him. He just knows what we need.
Jesus knew what the woman needed. Not cosmetics, but morality and ethics. Not condemnation, but evangelization. Not a face lift, but a faith lift.
She had been wounded by promises left undone, bruised by relationships gone broken and hurt by marriages torn apart. Like this woman, there may be certain realities we cannot merely accept, there may be some skeletons in our closets we cannot simply forget, there may be some ugly scars in our lives we better not remember.
Jesus invites us to confront ourselves for the secrets we face. He shows us who He is by showing us who we are: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Who do we see when our hearts see God? If we had been rejected, we see him as rejecting. If we had been wounded by anger, we see him as someone angry. And if we had been loved, we see him as loving.
Somewhere in our past, we had been like the Samaritan woman in expressing our thirst. We expressed our brokenness in forms similar to water: blood, sweat and tears. Tears flowed as water in our joys and fears. Sweat trickled as water in our toils and despairs. Blood was spilled and generated in the life we all share.
No one can fill our brokenness except God who makes us holy. No one can satisfy our thirst except God who gives us the living water. Jesus not only made us look at our pains but beyond it. He continually emphasized that whatever we crave for in life does not really satisfy us even when we think we have it.
The woman was talking about buckets and deep cisterns, but she was still missing the point. Even when we have food, security, money, recognition, we still do not have it. Our hearts will continually be restless until it rests on God, to paraphrase St. Augustine. In leaving behind our false gods, we also leave behind our false selves.
When at last the woman realized what Jesus meant and said, “Give me this water that I may not be thirsty,” Jesus opened up the most sensitive place in her life where she experienced the most failure and shame. He said to her, “Call your husband and come back.”
She had been married five times. She was living in sin with the sixth man. And here she was confronted by the seventh man, Jesus. She made a confession, “I have no husband.”
What will we do when God reveals a wounded place in our heart? Do we change the subject as the woman did? Only the person who truly loves us can know us as we are and not as we pretend to be. Only the one who madly loves us knows our deepest desires. Only the one who deeply loves us can look at our past without batting an eyelash, without blinking, without breaking.
God is relentless and will never stop pursuing. Just as he intentionally passed through the village in search of the Samaritan woman, he is also passing through the village of our hearts and through the wells of our desires intentionally inviting us to renewal, repentance and rebirth.
When at last we depart this life, I wonder whether there will be a well near the gates of heaven. Upon seeing us I suppose St. Peter in his usual impulsive way will blurt out, “Well, well, well…”
Tis well that Jesus will be there. His presence is our comfort. Tis well that he will forgive us. Our encouragement is his assurance that inspite our dark secrets and through our repentance, our lives will be well. Tis well because it is always our hope and prayer that all is well that ends well.
27 March 2011