Maybe she was fat, perhaps she was thin, might have been homely looking or a raving beauty—we don’t know. The story is called the “Woman at the well”. She had no idea that she was going to meet her Lord and Savior. Fact is that she went to the well at noon so that she wouldn’t meet anyone.
The noon hour was the least popular time to draw water. The weather was hot, people stayed home, the streets were empty. Jesus was at the well to meet her. He spoke first, which shocked her to the bone. Men did not talk to women, much less a Jewish man who dared to speak with a Samaritan woman. Just in case that Jesus had missed the social cues—the woman reminded him—“You’re a Jew and I am a Samaritan—you are not supposed to be talking to me.” “Give me a drink”, Jesus said—simple request, but with lots of connotations. Water is necessary to sustain life. Yet, Jesus is life. He did not need anything from anyone. But the Lord imitated a conversation with someone who was running on empty. The woman needed more than water from the well. She needed to be loved. Obviously, from her past record she had looked for love in all the wrong places. Five husbands and living with a man who was not her husband. What does that smell like? What sort of image comes to mind? Jesus could have called her names, insulted her, told her that she was a sinner. When Jesus told her that she had had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband, she might have wanted to find the nearest hole and crawled into it. Confronted with the truth the majority of us want to hide. We play “hide and go seek” with God, with ourselves. Some folks go to other parishes for Confession because “What will the priest think?” Perhaps that’s the reason that people from other parishes come here for Confession.
The woman at the well had no place to hide. Jesus had her cornered. The woman was quite impressed that Jesus knew all about her life—but so did everybody else. Small town, big mouths, no television. There was nothing else to do but spread juicy gossip. The woman provided plenty of material to be the talk of the town. However, Jesus was an outsider; He could not have known because He was a stranger. When she realized that Jesus knew the truth, she changed the subject. Religion is safe, so she thought.
Religion was just where Jesus wanted her to go. He was thirsty for her soul. Where to worship, what prayers to say, will the Messiah come soon? Jesus told her, “I am He, the one speaking with you.” Sometimes we look the world over for happiness only to discover that happiness was right under our nose. The vacation to top all vacations, when I retire, the money that I will inherit—then—sometime in the future I will find happiness. However, when the Messiah is the center of our life we need nothing else—we need no one else. If we have tried to hide from God, the time has come to allow ourselves to be found. He’s looking for us. The Lord already knows each one of our sins—completely. And He still wants to speak with us. Fact is that the greater our sin is, the more likely we are willing to listen. People at the bottom are more open to divine grace than those who have no need of repentance. If we have messed up “big time”, we are in good company. There’s a long list of famous saints who messed up “big time.” But they were smart enough to ask forgiveness—to turn their life around—and to start again. We come face to face with the Messiah who tells us who we are. No need to run, no reason to hide—He is not here to accuse us, but to forgive us.
Lent is a time for new birth, new life. Jesus offers us His healing. He is truly the savior of the world.