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How about a drink?

This lengthy gospel account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well is a story rich in lessons that are as relevant to life today as they were in the era of Jesus.

We can also apply them to the everyday situations that we encounter in our own era. Let’s look at three key elements of this account of a meeting with Jesus.

First, there is an encounter. The woman is an outcast from her own community because of what is judged to be her immoral behaviour. 

This is why she comes to the well at about noon, when it is unlikely she will encounter the scorn and exclusion of her neighbours.

Jesus initiates a conversation with his request for a drink. For the Samaritan woman, this is quite unexpected, as there was a high degree of animosity between Jews and Samaritans at that time. In addition, there was a normal reticence between men and women, which would have made Jesus direct words quite a surprise to her.

The passage describes the disciples’ surprise when they return and find that he is talking with the Samaritan woman.

The woman remains hesitant and unsure, perhaps confused, but obviously doesn’t feel threatened.

Jesus demonstrates that he knows her well and yet accepts her as she is, going even further to declare to her that he is the one she seeks that will explain everything.

“That is who I am, the one who speaks to you,” he says to her.

Secondly, there is conversion. The woman responds to this encounter with Jesus in faith.

And thirdly, there is a consequence. The woman immediately jumps up and calls the townsfolk to come and meet Jesus. 

She is no longer concerned about their scorn or rejection, but filled with an excitement and a wonder that she feels a profound desire to share with others.

In turn, others also believe in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony and, so strong was the flow on effect of the encounter and conversion that they begged him to stay with them.

Jesus continues to encounter us in our everyday lives and work. He knows us well and yet accepts us as we are—sinners. It is his love that can transform us into his witnesses and thereby affect others.

A quotation from an unknown author says, “Don’t try to hold God’s hand; let him hold yours. Let him do the holding and you do the trusting.”

At some stage during this week it may be good to take time to reflect on where you have encountered Jesus in your life

Was it through someone who you knew? Or was it through a stranger? What effect did this have on you?

“The people of God are incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture… Grace supposes culture and God’s gift becomes flesh in the culture of those who receive it” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, No.115).


λ Diocese of Sandhurst