The Samaritan (Samarian) Woman -
The Woman at the Well
(Third Sunday of Lent, Year A)

The Samaritan Woman at the Well - by CARRACCI, Annibale - from Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan


John 4:5-42 (A)

Jesus had to pass through Samaria, and His journey brought Him to a Samaritan town named Shechem near the plot of land which Jacob had given to his son Joseph. This was the site of Jacob's well. Jesus, tired from His journey, sat down at the well. The hour was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink". (His disciples had gone off to the town to buy provisions.)

The Samaritan woman said to Him, "You are a Jew. How can You ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink"? (Recall that Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.)

Jesus replied: "If only you recognized God's gift, and Who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked Him instead, and He would have given you living water".

"Sir", she challenged Him, "You don't have a bucket and this well is deep. Where do You expect to get this flowing water? Surely You don't pretend to be greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it with his sons and his flocks"?

Jesus replied: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty; no, the water I give shall become a fountain within him, leaping up to provide eternal life".

The woman said to Him, "Give me this water, sir, so that I won't grow thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water".

He told her, "Go, call your husband, and then come back here".

"I have no husband", replied the woman.

"You are right in saying you have no husband"! Jesus exclaimed. "The fact is, you have had five, and the man you are living with now is not your husband. What you said is true enough".

"Sir", answered the woman, "I can see You are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you people claim that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship God".

Jesus told her: "Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand, while we understand what we worship; after all, salvation is from the Jews. Yet an hour is coming, and is already here, when authentic worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth. Indeed, it is just such worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth".

The woman said to Him: "I know there is a Messiah coming. (This term means Anointed.) When He comes, He will tell us everything".

Jesus replied, "I Who speak to you am He".

His disciples, returning at this point, were surprised that Jesus was speaking with a woman. No one put a question, however, such as "What do you want of Him"? or "Why are You talking with her"?

The woman then left her water jar and went off into the town. She said to the people: "Come and see Someone Who told me everything I ever did! Could this not be the Messiah"? With that they set out from the town to meet Him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, "Rabbi, eat something". But He told them: "I have food to eat of which you do not know".

At this the disciples said to one another, "You do not suppose anyone has brought Him something to eat"?

Jesus explained to them: "Doing the Will of Him Who sent Me and bringing His work to completion is My food. Do you not have a saying: 'Four months more and it will be harvest!'? Listen to what I say: Open your eyes and see! The fields are shining for harvest! The reaper already collects his wages and gathers a yield for eternal life, that Sower and Reaper may rejoice together. Here we have the saying verified: 'One man sows; another reaps.' I sent you to reap what you had not worked for. Others have done the labor, and you have come into their gain".

Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him on the strength of the woman's word of testimony: "He told me everything I ever did". The result was that, when these Samaritans came to Him, they begged Him to stay with them awhile. So He stayed there two days, and through His own spoken word many more came to faith. As they told the woman: "No longer does our faith depend on your story. We have heard for ourselves, and we know that this really is the Savior of the World".


 The Woman at the Well

by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.

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crucifixion3.jpg (1600 bytes)In many ways, the story of the Samaritan Woman is a turning point in the Gospel of John. It marks the end of Jesus' teaching to only a select few, and begins His wider ministry. She is the first person He talks to who knows nothing of Him. In fact, after He meets her at the well and first speaks to her, she says to Him "How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria"?

It is clear that there is an underlying tension between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. She does not want to hear what He has to say, because Jews and Samaritans do not share things. Nevertheless, Jesus decides to preach to her, and says "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the Water that I will give them will never be thirsty". This sentence is crucial, because after it, she asks Him to give her the Water. The wall between the Jew and the Samaritan has been broken down, and Jesus then proceeds to tell her that He is the Messiah.

She returns to her town, and telling everyone she knows that she has found the Messiah. Some people believe her, and when Jesus comes to the town, the rest know He is "truly the Savior of the World".

This Story introduces many crucial themes that pan out in the rest of the Gospel. The first and most important is that Jesus has begun His Ministry, and will impart His Word on the people He meets. Another important issue raised in this story is the fact that Jesus talks to the lower members of society. It is stated specifically that Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at noon, which is the hottest part of the day, and an unlikely time to draw water from a well. It is hinted at that she may be someone who is not liked in her community, with the fact that the Disciples yell at Him for talking to her, and the fact that she had five husbands. Since she is, quite possibly, one of the lower members of society, it becomes clear that Jesus will talk to anyone, not just the Pharisees, or other ones who come to Him.

Another point that the story raises is the fact that people believe in Jesus when He first speaks to them. This was first hinted at when He said to Philip "follow Me", and Peter did without any other words, but it becomes clear in this story that it will work for every person, not just the Disciples.

Interestingly enough, Jesus also tells His first Parable in this story as well. He likens the earth to a field being harvested for Everlasting Life, so that the "Sower and Reaper may rejoice together".


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Bishop Fulton J. Sheen:

There is something Good in everything. Evil has no capital of its own; it lives in Goodness as a Parasite. But Loving the partial Goodness in others we bring them more quickly to the Circle of Goodness which is God. This was the tactic of Our Lord when He spoke to an Adulteress at the Well. There was nothing in common between His Divine Goodness and her Sinful Life, except a love of a drink of cold water. So He started there . . . and led her on to a declaration that He was Love and Savior of the World.


Meditations on the
Woman at the Well

by Father Pablo Straub

The Gospel Story of the Woman at the Well is explained by Father Straub in light of other Gospel Stories such as the Parable of the Wedding Feast. The common denominator is God's Grace given to His people through the Sacraments of the Church which make us sons and daughters of the Father, and younger brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. MP3 recording courtesy EWTN Library.


Further Meditations on the
Woman at the Well

by Father George Rutler
Pontifical Doctorate in Sacred Theology

The Gospel Story of the Woman at the Well is explained by Father Rutler using the religious poem "The Hound of Heaven" by British Catholic Poet Francis Thompson. Jesus goes out of His way to bring the Samaritan Woman and her neighbors (despised by the Jews) to Faith. There is no person, whom God can not bring to Faith, and He will go out of His way to do so. This is an encouraging thought for us Parents today, whose Children have strayed from their Catholic Faith. MP3 recording courtesy EWTN Library.


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