by Sister Mary Kabat
For when he asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink,
he had already created the gift of faith within her.
(excerpt from Preface: The Samaritan Woman)
Have you been caught in or been the witness of a “he said, she said?” It can end in a rift in a relationship. In Sunday’s Gospel from John (proclaimed in parishes with candidates and catechumens preparing to be initiated into the Catholic Church), Jesus’ simple request, “Give me a drink,” leads to a lengthy back and forth between Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan woman. It begins a volley of questions and theological and historical answers which must have brought Jesus a smile and raised the ire of the woman who showed such spunk, knowledge and faith.
Then came the request that brought the debate to a halt: “Go call your husband.” This required an answer of personal truth. This was a line in the sand that must be crossed for the encounter to deepen. The woman must have taken a deep breath and then revealed the truth of her life to Jesus, “I do not have a husband.” Then, when she references the Messiah, Jesus did some truth telling of his own: “I am he, the one speaking to you.”
The woman sets down her water jar – how this encounter began – and runs to not only proclaim the good news of Jesus but to bring the people of her town to Jesus and Jesus to her town for a two-day stay. How bewildered the disciples were! How filled with faith the townspeople were for having come to know the “savior of the world.”
Thank You Sister for your writings...I would like to have a conversation w/Jesus on how to live out the remainder of my secular life in ways that best prepare me to live an eternal life.
What I 'see' and 'hear' in this story, at this time in my life, is how [deeper] self-knowledge and [greater] self-awareness leads to/becomes Knowledge-&-Awareness of God. I concur w/ those who have found this to be an everlasting and eternal [spiritual] truth.
The more we know and thus, ARE, our 'True' Self, the more-of-God (more of the divine) emanate from within us. The more genuine and authentic we are as human beings (including compassion, creativity, empathy, humility, hospitable and embracing of all), the more genuine and authentic are we as 'true' revelations of God.
What I hear in the Samaritan woman's initial response is almost like a dare or a challenge, or a sarcastic remark back to JESUS, when he asks her to get her husband. It is her way of saying, "Ah-ha -- you think you're so smart. Well, Mr. Know-it-All, I don't HAVE a husband, so what do you say to that?"
Her conversion process starts from here, when she begins to hear in JESUS' tone with her, that he is not there to 'put her down,' or 'trip her up,' but to help her understand herself in a deeper and richer way than she yet has. To help her gain insight into herself, and her life's mistakes/hurts, so that she will see there is another way to "BE." She does not have to stay trapped in the life she now experiences, as miserable as it is. This very compassionate way of relating to her that JESUS has, is what initiates her conversion process.