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Today's beautiful scene, from John's Gospel, expresses Jesus' desire for our faith. While Jesus' disciples are going into town to get food, Jesus is being nourished by the emerging faith of the Woman at the Well. She models for us an openness to Jesus which makes an encounter with Jesus possible. Jesus' tender love for her allows the Spirit of God, already dwelling within her, to become a wellspring from holiness which will carry her eternally.

In the "Bible in a Year" podcast, Fr Mike Schmitz breaks open a possible meaning of the "five husbands" referenced in the story. The story, as is often the case in John's Gospel, is unfolding on two levels. The woman can be seen as the whole region of Samaria; her five husbands are the five ethnic groups that had been sent into the region to worship the "God of Israel" without really knowing or caring about true worship during the diaspora of the Northern Kingdom in the 8th century, BCE. Jesus is inviting the woman to trust the truth of her life and no longer to worry about the loves which could not bring her eternal life; Jesus is also inviting all of Samaria to let go of the false gods which could not be truly worshiped and to follow Jesus in the love of the one true God.

What I love most about this story is that, in John's Gospel, this Samaritan Woman, the least likely to be an Apostle, is actually the first to be an Apostle, one who is sent. Jesus sends her to tell of him to the people of Samaria and she brings all her townspeople to him, to faith in Jesus; meanwhile, the disciples who will become the twelve apostles, are asking Jesus why he is talking to a Samaritan woman and if he wants some lunch. Jesus tells them he has already been nourished, by the Samaritan Woman's faith. It is not just to say that women can be apostles; it is also to say that Jesus is always and everywhere ready to encounter us. Let us keep our hearts open for the next encounter, the next opportunity to deepen in our love for Jesus.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.


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