Last week we began our reflection on the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, an encounter that revealed a Jesus who knows what human tiredness feels like and how difficult it is to keep going even when the flesh is weak; a Jesus who understands the value of breaking barriers; a Jesus who knows how to empathize with our struggles and tribulations.
Continuing with the story, we learn that the woman came to the well around 12:00 noon; a very odd time for people who lived in those days; a time that suggests that this woman was running from something—probably, the gossiping lips of her neighbors because of her state in life. Here, she was doing the right thing at the wrong time. Isn’t it true that when our life is messed up, everything about us gets messed up; that when our priorities are disordered, everything about us becomes disordered?
Our lives are so interconnected that when one area is messed up and we live apart from God, the rest of our life suffers. We begin to avoid going to Church, avoid family members and friends, and we find ourselves hanging out in the wrong places, with the wrong people, and with the wrong things. We develop excuses for things that we used to do. But notice that after the woman encountered Jesus, she became bold enough to go back to the same people she had avoided for years and brought the Good News to them. Where did her fear go? Where did her shame go? What happened to her need to avoid people and to hide? When Jesus takes control of our lives; when we empty ourselves before the Lord in truth and honesty, there is nothing to fear; no shame, nothing to avoid or hide from, nothing we cannot confront because the spirit in us becomes greater than our opposition.
It is important to notice that Jesus had sent His apostle into the town before He encountered this woman in her place of pain – isolation. I am not sure that the conversation between Jesus and this woman would have gone as well as it did if the apostles were present. She probably would have been more ashamed, embarrassed, and unable to connect with Jesus. My friends, Jesus knows where to meet you, when to meet you, and how to encounter you to bring you to a place of glory. God never leaves us where He meets us. He meets us wherever we are to lead us to where we need to be. We need to be ready to move on when we encounter Jesus. The ability to listen and hear God speaking to us is critical, for it is difficult to hear God when we are consumed with our problems and anxieties; when we are angry with life and are unwilling to be reconciled with Him, self, and others. If we are still as angry as we used to be, still as jealous in our hearts, still rebellious to the commandments of the Lord and the laws of His Church, still a barrier-builder, prejudiced and unforgiving in our hearts, still unwilling to tithe as God has commanded us, still envious of other’s blessings and hold contempt in our hearts for others, then we have not moved from where Jesus met us. Lent is a time to make moves to become the best versions of ourselves. The Samaritan woman stands up to us as a model; a woman who suffered real pain and lived in sin as we do, a woman who, in her pain, met Jesus and allowed Him to move her to a place of glory. Jesus will do the same for us if only we can open up to Him and let Him do the work on us. May the good Lord grant us a fruitful Lenten practice!