Monday, April 11, 2011

Scripture John 4:5-9
Jacobs Well
[5] So he came to a city of Samar'ia, called Sy'char, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
[6] Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
[7] There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." [8] For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
[9] The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar'ia?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jacob’s Well
The first form of water is the spring (the well), water that bursts forth fresh from the earth. The spring is origin, beginning, in its as yet unclouded and unspent purity. The spring figures as a creative element, as well as being a symbol of fruitfulness.

Immediately after the conversation with Nicodemus, we meet Jesus at Jacob’s Well. The Lord promises the Samaritan woman water that becomes in the one who drinks it a source springing up to eternal life, so that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. In this scene, the symbolism of the well is associated with the history of Israel. Earlier, at the calling of Nathanael, Jesus had revealed himself as the new and greater Jacob. In the vision, Jacob had seen the angels of God ascending and descending above the stone he was using as a pillow. Jesus prophesies to Nathanael that his disciples will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending above him. Here, at Jacob’s Well, we encounter Jacob as the great patriarch who by means of this well had provided water, the basic element of life. But there is a greater human thirst – it extends beyond the water from the well, because it seeks a life that reaches out beyond the biological sphere.
Source: from Chapter 8 of Pope Benedict's "Jesus of Nazareth"


The meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is one of the great stories of the gospels. It is the meeting of a noted man and a nameless woman with a past. It is the meeting of two individuals who represent two worlds, two peoples, two traditions, two sets of needs, two sets of hopes, and in a special way two sets of prejudices. It is a meeting across the divide of history.

Long standing and deep rooted conflict is resolved at the level of personal contact. Notice that interaction and reconciliation take place in the ordinariness of everyday life.

The well in those days was the focal point for the community – it was the only source of water. Today it could be outside the school at 9am or 4pm, it could be the pub on a Saturday night, it could be the gym.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman did not say “we will wait for the right time and right place”; they tackled each other there and then. We may have a tendency to avoid friends and neighbours when we fall out with them, or when we do bump into them we barely speak. The challenge for us is to follow the example of the woman in today’s Gospel, and to engage in conversation those we do not see ‘eye to eye’ with, to respectfully question and most importantly to listen to the other.


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