3rd Sunday of Lent ( A ) 2020
“He told me all I have ever done” the Samaritan woman told the other Samaritans. Imagine that: someone being able to see all you’ve ever done. It reminds me of Saint Padre Pio; that when you went to confession to him he could read your soul. Well Jesus could certainly read this woman’s soul. She had had by all accounts what we could call a “colourful life”. Clearly, she was not popular with the other women who saw her as a threat to their husbands.
So, notice, when she went to the well she went on her own. She is alone; ostracised by the decent woman of that town. She was bad news and to be avoided. And yet Jesus, who knew all this, doesn’t avoid her nor condemn her. “He told me all I have ever done”. We just get an abbreviated version of all she had ever done: that she had had five husbands and was now living in sin with someone else. There was much more to this lady’s colourful life, but we are spared the details. Jesus doesn’t condemn her, on the contrary, he sees her potential, that she could change, become a better person. In fact, Jesus sees that she can become one of his followers.
There was something about the meeting with Jesus, his gentle, non-judgemental manner, that touched this Samaritan woman deeply. He knew all about her past yet he didn’t condemn her as others had done. Sometimes she hated herself. She didn’t like the person she had become but what could she do; she was resigned to her lot. And yet, this man, this stranger, gives her such hope. Jesus tells her that he is the long-awaited Messiah; “I who am speaking to you, said Jesus, I am he.”
At that moment she is a changed woman. She had come to the well to collect water. She was thirsty. But now she forgets all about the water and goes back into town. Notice, she doesn’t stroll back as she had strolled out, no, we are told she “hurried back”, she ran. She couldn’t wait to tell the others about this man she had met, who said he was the Messiah. This reminds me of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who when they discovered their companion was Jesus they couldn’t wait to tell the others. The Samaritan woman must have been convincing because the people came out of the town to see and listen to Jesus themselves. “Now, they say, we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.”
You see this woman, this one-time sinner, has now become a follower of Christ. She has been so deeply touched by him that her heart is burning with love. She reminds me of another great sinner, Mary Magdalene. Like Mary her first thought was to tell others about the man she had met. This is what happens when people are touched by the love of God. So, we should never judge anyone whom others look down on. Today’s public sinner can be tomorrow’s saint. It is love that can do this; love can change even the hardest sinner. But we are all sinners. We are all in need of God’s merciful grace. During Lent pray for the grace of conversion, pray to understand the love God has for us in spite of all our faults and failings and even sinfulness. Then share that love with others.