“Lent can be a time for us to look away from the center and to the edges, we are so many live in the shadow of isolation” (Steagald, 63).
Scripture: John 4:5-10 (GNT):
In Samaria he came to a town named Sychar, which was not far from the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by the trip, sat down by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” (His disciples had gone into town to buy food.) The woman answered, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan—so how can you ask me for a drink?” (Jews will not use the same cups and bowls that Samaritans use.) Jesus answered, “If you only knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water.”
In this third week of Lent, we share the story of the Samaritan woman at the well who encounters Jesus offering water for life. There is so much that we do not know about this woman, and unfortunately that has opened up the passage for so much interpretation and filling in the blanks, most often monopolizing on the idea that the woman is a sinner of the worst kind. We don't really know that she was a sinner. In fact, it is more likely that she was a good person and a respected member of her society. Otherwise, no one would have listened to her when she told them to “come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done” (John4:29).
This unnamed woman is, nevertheless, on the margins of Jesus’ society. She is a woman, and we all know that women in that society were considered property and not fully persons in themselves. She is also a Samaritan, which means that she is considered by the Jews to be a heretic, a half-breed, out of the line of God's inclusiveness for God’s chosen people. So while she may not have been as isolated from her own society as so many people often assume, she was isolated from the Jews and even, for a moment, from Jesus. But Jesus recognizes in her a person, one who is just as thirsty as he is for living water. And the Messiah, the son of God, would not deny her or anyone else that living water. Neither should we.