“This Well Is Deep”
Early morning is the time to draw water from the common well; you meet your fellow housewives and chat before heading home with your jar. But the Samaritan Woman is there at noon, quite alone until Jesus shows up. Is she The Other Woman That Nobody Likes? Maybe. At any rate, a combative streak shows itself in her challenge to Jesus: “You don’t even have a bucket, Mister, and this well is deep.”
But his well is deeper.
Look what happens next. Engaging her in conversation that goes far beyond buckets or wells, Jesus names the truth about her personal situation. And to her credit, she owns it, putting aside the coyness she’d begun with (“I have no husband.”). She makes a quantum leap here, asking him a serious question, something she really wants to know, to which he responds with equal seriousness. True worship, says Jesus, will happen in Spirit and truth, and not in a physical place like Jerusalem or Mt. Gerazim. These words don’t shock her, but rather invite her to dig deeper with the question about the Messiah.
Jesus’ words prompt her to action. The time for talk is over; now, she has to share the news. Ironically, by story’s end, she’s been swept back to the margins by her neighbors: “We no longer believe because of your word.” Still, they can’t sweep away her experience. Her encounter with Jesus will remain with her and continue to inform her life.
So what about us, who meet him regularly in Word and Sacrament?
—Sr. Nuala Cotter, RA