3rd Sunday of Lent: Who do You Shun”?


By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB

As we have seen, Scriptures often use geographical sites to convey messages. On the 1st Sunday, for instance, Jesus was tempted with abundant power, prestige and possessions while in the desert where he had nothing at all. On the 2nd Sunday, he went to the mountain to demonstrate the new law.

Today’s Gospel (John 4:5-42) takes place at the water well. Jesus is tired and has sat down.

A Samaritan woman is also there, getting some water. She is very surprised when Jesus asks her to give him a drink, because Jews never speak to Samaritans, and especially not to Samaritan women.

Perhaps Jesus knows she is a sinner and that she is there at the hottest part of the day because the women who come to the well earlier in the day shun her.

The woman is you and I, every woman and man.

Jesus asks us for a drink.

We, like the woman demure, after all he is a stranger and of the “other faith.” He is not like us.

And yet Jesus continues, “If you knew to whom you were talking, you would say, ‘Give me a drink.'”

In the brief dialog, the woman is converted, she is open to the Spirit moving within her heart.

She returns to her village to tell the people (formerly her enemies) that she just met Jesus. Her conversion breaks down the barriers between women and men, Jews and Samaritans, cultures, races and traditions.

This Gospel has clearly many focal points for us today!

Think of the children and families of Flint, Mich., having drunk polluted waters that rob them of life.

Think of the longing for a wall – a barrier – to keep “the other” out … because they are not like us.

We must appear shabby, small-minded and ridiculous in the face of Jesus’ inclusiveness and love of all.

Questions for Reflection …

Though we are tired of Lent and weary, for whom can we be “waters turning into springs”?

Aware that we carry the Springs of Water within our hearts, do we share that grace with all whom we meet? Or do we shun others as “the woman at the well”? As not being like us?

Who do you shun?

Who brings us those fresh waters?


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