It was around noon when the Samaritan woman ventured out of her home to draw water from the well. Her morning must have consisted of the usual house chores, the familiar routine by which she lived her life outside the sight of others who condemned her. After she was certain that the rest of the women of Sychar had left the well, she once again picked up her bucket, empty and dry, and made her way through town, avoiding the gazes of the people who knew her sinfulness.
The Jews had many words for God, calling him Yahweh (LORD), Adonai (Lord), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El-Olam (Everlasting God). It is often tempting for me to solely view God in these terms of power and strength or to believe that God reveals himself only in grandeur and majesty.
But Jesus desires to meet us in our ordinary lives, in our weakness and our poverty. He came into this world as a baby, small and vulnerable. He left us as a young man beaten and bloodied on the cross, crucified and exposed for the world to see His humanity. He revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman as having been tired from His journey, needing to sit and rest.
“Great was our sweet Redeemer’s love when, fatigued by His journey, He sat down, all engaging and loving, beside the well to wait for the Samaritan woman, that He might convert and save her!” ~St. Alphonsus Liguori
Jesus did not need to sit down or be tired. He actually chose to allow himself to enter into her humanity so that He could meet her in a place where she would be able to receive Him. How sweet it is for us to be able to sit with the Father in our ordinary lives and allow Him to slowly empty us of our sinfulness and fill our hearts with new life.
When the Samaritan woman looks at Jesus and speaks of the deep well, does she not also speak of the deep longing in her Heart?
The Father wants to give her living water. Water that will flow through her and satisfy her thirst for love. He meets her in her emptiness and fills her with this water. She is no longer the Samaritan woman or a woman in sin. She is able to claim her identity as a daughter of a Father that desires to give her new life. And now this daughter is able to leave behind the empty jar and run to share this new life with others.
“Don’t be afraid of yourselves! Don’t be afraid of all that you are, in your human reality where God pitches His tent to dwell with you. God is Incarnation. God’s new name is Emmanuel, God with us: God with your reality. Open yourself to it without fear. Only in the measure you discover yourself will you discover the depths of His love. In the depths of what you are, you will experience that you are not alone. Someone, lovingly and mercifully, has entered into the mystery of your humanity, not as spectator, not as judge, but as someone who loves you, who offers himself to you, who espouses you to free you, save you and heal you…To stay with you forever, loving you, loving you!” ~Interior Freedom, Jacques Philippe
This lent, will we allow the Father to meet us in the ordinary places in our lives? Will we allow Him to empty our hearts of sin so that we can receive His delight for us as His sons and daughters? Will we allow him to free us and give us new life?
Father, thank you for pursuing me in every moment of my life. Grant me the freedom to be able to encounter you and your merciful gaze. Teach me to empty myself of sin and invite your graces into that well so that it can be filled with your life. Amen.
Angeli Fernandes is a FOCUS missionary at the Harvard Catholic Center.