Cleansing Fire

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The Well Woman

March 9th, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This coming weekend’s Gospel (3rd Sunday of Lent) is from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 4, in which Jesus meets a woman of Samaria at the village well in the noon-day heat. He asks her for water, and their conversation leads to what He can give to her, i.e. “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Woman at the Well
Irish Dominicans

John’s Gospel was most likely written after those of the three synoptic authors. He adds stories not found in the other Gospels, such as the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the one we consider here, the Woman at the Well. The evangelist also brings out points for the sake of clarity we might otherwise miss, like the implication in the Passion of the temple soldiers falling down in the Garden before the Great “I AM.”

In the prayerful practice of Lectio Divina, we are encouraged to experience sacred writings, especially from the Gospels, as if we had been there, inserting ourselves as bystanders, or even as persons involved in the story. We know we have been given what the Holy Spirit considers necessary in the Scripture for our spiritual growth but, sometimes, in our own meditation / reflection on a scripture passage, we can imagine, based on Who we know Jesus to be, how He speaks to us, how He loves us, what else might have transpired.

The woman herself rouses our curiosity when she says to her neighbors: “Come, see a Man Who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29)  Verse 39 states: “Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.'” After the townspeople meet Christ, we read in verse 42: “They said to the woman: ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.'”

Many stories from the Gospels can leave us wondering “What else did Jesus say?” But there is a unique invitation to us to step into the words of this woman because of the three-fold reference to her witnessing that “He told me all that I ever did.” As we read this Chapter 4, we find some words implying Christ knows of her past, but it would be quite a stretch to say “all that I ever did.” We can prayerfully ponder just what might be consistent with the Gospel, even what those words might mean for us today.

Here, then, is just one such reflection on what it means to be “A Well Woman.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Go call your husband and come back.’   The woman answered and said to Him, ‘I do not have a husband.’  Jesus answered her, ‘You are right in saying, “I do not have a husband.”  For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.  What you have said is true.”’ These are indeed the words of the Gospel; to reflect further, we try to understand what the woman might have ‘heard’ in Christ’s speaking Truth to her. Maybe He said …?

“Your first husband wanted you for your beauty, and you wanted to be wanted for your beauty.  Then a more beautiful woman came along and he followed her.  My child, you are beautiful to your Heavenly Father.  He designed your beauty and is the only one Who sees the depth of your beauty, the only one Who can truly appreciate your beauty, all the way into your soul.  Even when you are aged, you will be beautiful to your Father in Heaven.”

“You called your relationship with your second husband love, but it was lust.  He wanted to possess you, as a trophy, until a greater trophy was found.  You will never be truly possessed until possessed by Love, by the Father Who is Love, and loves you more than you can ever love yourself.”

“Your third husband wanted service, and used you.  Your heart tried to give itself to an earthly master, but felt divided between two masters.  You can never give enough to win an earthly heart, nor ever withhold so much as to lose the Divine Heart.  You will never find one truly worthy of your service until you serve your God, Himself, with your whole being.”

“You married your fourth husband for his wealth, and he left you nothing when he died.  You had less than when you began.  And if he had provided for you, you would still not have been satisfied.  Only the riches that your Heavenly Father has stored up for you will satisfy you, true treasure of the Spirit.”

“Your fifth husband you sought for protection, and well you needed protection.  But he abused you instead, and you’ve fled from him.  Woman, the only true protection comes from the Father.  Even in your distress, you didn’t go hungry, you were clothed and sheltered.  Whom do you think has always been providing for you?  There is no protection for the lamb except under the Shepherd’s cloak.”

“From the man with whom you now live, you expect very little, and shall receive very little.  Even the companionship of a face in the early morning will bore you.  You yearn for so much more, and have sought it in your husbands, but only your Father, from whom you keep running away, can be a true companion to you, every hour of the day and night.  You will not be satisfied until you worship the Father, and then you will need no other.  The Father has sent Me to you, to quench your thirst….”

“Daughter, He Whom you have most wanted is waiting for you to turn to Him, to see the beauty of your soul in Him, to experience love beyond compare, to accept your service to His Holy Name, to share with you the riches of  His Kingdom, to protect you from the ravagers of your spirit, and to offer you the companionship that never withers, closer to you than you are to yourself.  Daughter, look to the true Lover of your soul to quench your thirst.”

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