By Tom Quiner
Today’s gospel reading is about you. And me.
If you were to create a list of the Bible’s best stories, the story of the Woman at the Well ranks high. You can find it in John 4:5.
The story is rich with symbolism. Every detail in the story has meaning. What strikes me is how Jesus sees us as we really are, that He knows “who is the real me.” And who is that? One who needs Him; one who is drawn to Him; one who is ultimately like Him when we strip away the sin. He calls us to accept the Living Water of Life so that we will thirst no more.
I’ve posted an excerpt above from the mini-musical of faith I co-wrote (music by Phil Havens; lyrics by Tom Quiner) titled The Woman at the Well. In the song above, “Give Me This Water,” the Woman speaks for us all in expressing her desire for spiritual fulfillment. There’s an acknowledgement that the desires of this world will never satisfy our thirsts.
Listen to a wonderful sermon on this rich gospel reading by Fr. Robert Barron. It’s worth the listen …
Here is one of scripture’s richest passages, The Woman at the Well (New American Bible):
11 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John2(although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), 23he left Judea and returned to Galilee.4He had to 3 pass through Samaria.5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, 4 near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.6Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.7A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”8His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.95 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)106 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11(The woman) said to him, “Sir, 7 you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water?12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;14but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”16Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.”17The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’18For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”19The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; 8 but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”21Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.22You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; 9 and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.24God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”2510 The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”26Jesus said to her, “I am he, 11 the one who is speaking with you.”27At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, 12 but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people,29″Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?”30They went out of the town and came to him.31Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”32But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”33So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?”34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.35Do you not say, ‘In four months 13 the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.36The reaper is already 14 receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.37For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”39Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman 15 who testified, “He told me everything I have done.”40When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.41Many more began to believe in him because of his word,42and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”