The next three Sundays in our Church will be Scrutiny Sundays as we will be celebrating part of the process of initiating those who are being prepared to come into full communion with the Catholic faith. During the Masses for these Scrutinies, the readings will be taken from Circle A instead of Circle C. The gospel, for this Sunday, therefore, is the story of the Samaritan Woman’s encounter with Jesus (John 4:1-42)
What is fascinating about this story is that it reveals the different ways that we resist getting closer to God while showing us what happens when we open ourselves up to this encounter. Many a time, we resist getting close to Jesus because of our sense of sin and unworthiness. We are even tempted to think that God will not discover our sins if we do not get close to Him or even worse, that we can go ahead and do what we want to do because the guilt weighs less on our hearts. The truth of the matter is that Christ did not come for those who are righteous but for those of us sinners. Scripture says that while we were in sin, God sent His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him might be saved. Because this Samaritan woman didn’t want to get close to Jesus, because of her sense of sinfulness and unrighteousness, she used every possible excuse to resist this encounter. She pulled the race card arguing that Jesus was Jewish and she, a Samaritan; just as we sometimes do when we use race, ethnicity, religion, and color as a basis to hate others. She questioned Christ’s ability to fulfill His promises, jesting Him with a kind of humorous contempt by saying, “Give me this water so that I will never get thirsty again and do not need to keep coming to this well” thereby making caricature of God’s promise. She even attacked His religion as a way of resisting this close encounter just as we sometimes do when we question why the church should teach this or that; why the Church should prohibit this or that; why should the Church dictate what I do or not do, etc. We argue with scriptures and bend facts and history to suit our purpose. Inevitably, we find ourselves moving away from the author of life, Himself.
In the midst of her resistances, Christ simply told her that only if she knew what she would benefit by coming into relationship with Him, she would realize that her excuses pail to nothingness compared to what she will gain and receive; and so it happened. Having run out of excuses, Christ confronted her with her true self. She had no option left than to make a true confession about her true state in life; she got in touch with her inner self; and Christ was right there to walk her through all the way.
What is so powerful to notice in this story is that we never know ourselves or see ourselves truly as we are until we can see ourselves in the presence of Christ. The presence of Christ confronts us with the realization that life, as we are living it, needs redemption. In the presence of Christ, we wake up to ourselves and we wake up to our need for God. Our ability to live fully and freely rests in building a personal relationship with Christ. As Scripture says, “I have come that they may have life and have it in its fullness” and again, it says, draw near to God and He will draw nearer to you. May we continue to be open to encounter the Lord in our everyday activities, Amen!