THE SAMARITAN WOMAN:
THE MODEL OF ENCOUNTERING JESUS
IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we enter the third week of Lenten season, we are half way through the season. Are we more ready to encounter resurrected Christ in our life? In other words, Are we more transformed into Christ like today than three weeks ago?

We just heard the story of the Samaritan woman talking with our Lord Jesus Christ from the Gospel of John. They have a long conversation with each other. This story is so so rich that it would take hours to unpack everything, but today we just focus on finding out the answers for the following two questions: Who is this woman? and Why does our Lord have so much interest in her? The answers will help us to understand that we, too, need to have a long conversation with the Lord like the woman. This is the Lord's invitation to us as well to have an intimate conversation with him, one on one with him because of only one reason that he loves us, he wants to be with us, to be in our company.

Jesus was on his journey with his 12 disciples to return to Galilee from the south of Israel, Judea. Even though going through Samaria is not the shortest way to get back to Galilee, but Jesus chose this route to go because he knows that there is a Samaritan woman in need of meeting him. So, it's no accident that he felt tired and sit down at the well by himself- by himself waiting for the woman to show up. Where were the 12 disciples? I guess it takes 12 men to the grocery store to buy food for Jesus, right! It's no accident that Jesus wants to meet the woman one on one - one on one because he knew that they would talk about the subject matter that is very personal and sensitive.

We must notice that it is about noon when they met each other at the well. This is very important factor that helping us to understand who she is. This well first of all is located a mile and a half outside of Samaria town. Most people would go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to get water due to the heat, but she went around noon to get her water because she expects to see no one. She tries to avoid meeting people because of her known messy relationship with men. She divorces 5 men and the one she is living with is not married. So, she is known as a public sinner, an outcast, the odd one that almost everyone in town knows her and her situation.

This woman is still on her search for true love and happiness even after she has 5 husbands because God places a desire in us for true happiness and love. Aren't we the same as this woman? May be we don't get married 5 times like this woman, but we might get married 2 or 3 times and still not totally happy. Perhaps we marry to our career and still not happy, marry to our shopping, gambling, drug and pornography addiction and still not happy. St. Augustine reflects on this subject when he wrote: "O Lord, you have created us for yourself and our heart is restless, until it rests in you."

--> The good news for all of us sinners is that Jesus seeks her out back then and he continues to seek us out now.

This is the will of the Father that Jesus seeks us out, so that we can return to the Father through him. This is why Jesus answers his disciples when they invite him to eat and he says: "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work."

During this Lenten season, God our Father invites us to come back to him. Lent means "spring" to a new life. It means returning to God because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can come to the Father except through the Son. All we need to do is like the woman asking Jesus for the living water - the spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Just like Jesus is waiting at the well for the woman, he is also waiting for us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation by himself and one on one with us because he knows we're not content and not happy with our life without him. He is more than ready to forgive us and bless us with his spring of water welling up to eternal life in the Sacrament of confession. So, what are we waiting for? Let us make time to meet our savior one on one with him through this powerful Sacrament.

Jesus asks the woman "give me a drink" indicating that he is thirsty for our souls, for our love, our well being, our wholeness, and for our holiness. We have to make the ultimatum that nothing and no one on this earth can satisfy our desire for true love and true happiness, but God himself and he is waiting for us to come back to him any time.

The woman after she recognizes Jesus is the prophet, the messiah the one who is promised in the Scripture to come, she left her water behind and rush back into town to share the good news with her friends. This process has to happen to us as well. First, we must encounter Jesus one on one with him, then we realize that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and the living water which will lead us to true love and happiness. Then, we'll be able to leave our old water behind, our old habit, our old way of life that always time and time again lead us to disappointment and heartache. Only then, when our heart is filled with Jesus, we can rush out to our family, our community, and the whole world to witness for Christ's love.

Pt Hoàng Thương

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