The Samaritan Woman's Encounter of Jesus, The Christ
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A
In a story, humans have become so technically evolved that they can now make a living, breathing person. A summit of scientists believed that because they now had the power to create life, God was no longer needed. So, they all decided that someone should go and tell God this. One man volunteered to go. One day he climbed a mountain and called upon God. “God! We humans now have the ability to bring people from the dead, we can create our own life, we don’t need you anymore so you can leave us alone.” God listened to the scientist and nodded his head. “Okay, I’ll tell you what, if you can really create life, let’s have a competition, if you can create a better person than me, I’ll go, but we’ll have to do it the way I did it in the old days.” So, the scientist agrees and begins to collect some dirt to make his person. God simply watches him and finally asks him what he’s doing. “I’m using the dirt to make a person.” God smiles, looks at the scientist and replies, “Go make your own dirt.”
We may not have that advanced technology to create a breathing person even today, but I believe that man has created too many distractions that have led people away from God or at least ranked Him second among people’s priorities. For example, mobile smart phones – a small gadget which almost has everything right at the fingertips. They are very accessible through “apps” that keeps people hooked to the gadget as opposed to talking to an actual person; or a universal television device which could cater to individual preferences or channels in different places we call “home.” Technologies which are neat and smart and yet, they lead us away from the principal “Creator,” who is GOD!
But, we are here anyway, which is a good thing! We are here to set a moment and some precious time with God and this Sunday, as we reflect on the theme, we are here to meet the Samaritan Woman. And so, let us talk to her and set aside our smart gadgets for awhile, shall we?
Who are you? We ask the woman. “I am a woman” (Gender); “I am a Samaritan” (Ethnicity); “I revere Mt. Gerizim as a holy place” (Religious tradition). To many of us, we could have stopped the conversation after hearing this information as it speaks about the woman being a “nobody” in society and an outsider. But since, we dialogue with Christ, we move on and dig deeper into the person of the woman. As we meet the woman we realize more about her and understand all her fears, anxieties, doubts and hesitations. From prejudice, we come to a point of understanding and sympathy.
Lesson from this initial query: “Keep the communication lines open.” Misunderstanding among relationships occurs because one deprives the other of important information, which could bring about a peaceful coexistence. Setting God as a priority starts with an open line of communication with God. When the woman first met Jesus, she doesn’t know anything about him. In fact, he addressed Jesus as a Jew, not a prophet nor the Messiah. It was only through a deeper dialogue that she came to realize that Jesus truly is the Son of God, the only person, who can give her the water that gives eternal life.
Now being able to know who the woman is, it is now time to tell her who you are: “Who am I?” I am a Christian and I do, in the best of my capacities, what my master did. What did the Master do to the Samaritan Woman? He makes the first move by reaching out to the woman requesting for water. He reached out across personal and religious prejudice. He demonstrated a hallmark action in his missionary life: getting out of his comfort zone and taking risks regardless of whether he will be accepted, cursed or rejected.
We all hear about the coronavirus plaguing the world and creating too much worry and stress to people and the government. It is a reality that’s creating a toll not only in Wuhan, China, its source, but all over the world now that travel is very accessible. Belonging to the Contra Costa County where several cases have been confirmed, we have been asked to stay at home while the obligation to Sunday Mass has been dispensed. If one is following the news, there’s an ongoing blame directed generally to the Chinese people: “They should have been more careful!” “They should have learned from lessons of the past when similar diseases where directly sourced from them.” But, if we keep a pointing finger, will that solve the ongoing pandemic?
In the Gospel, regular people including Christ’s disciples were prejudiced as to not reach out to the Samaritan woman. Should we be like them as to not do anything to those affected by the disease, not just the Chinese? On a positive note, I hear gestures of concern, people helping people in order that they could survive the pandemic. In the Philippines, for example, before Manila was placed on lockdown, the Chinese communities were giving out free masks to Filipino workers so they may work safely and be protected. Gestures which are very Christian (probably more Christian than the ones who claim to be Christian) though they may not necessarily profess the faith. Lesson from this revelation? Be true to your identity. Being a Christian means putting our prejudices behind and being proactive to current needs. Those infected by the virus need our help. They are also our brothers and sisters. They are the modern-day “Samaritans” of our country. Let us reach out to them in the best possible ways that we could.
If the dialogue was fruitful as it was with Jesus and the Samaritan woman, it would then lead to spending time with them. Jesus spent two days with the Samaritans and in those two days they were able to know who he truly was. From Jesus who was addressed as a Jew, to Jesus whom they later called “Savior of the world.” Question is, could we reach that point of the dialogue? Observing the Lenten Season means serving others in order that others may increase and that we may decrease. Self-denial as is the very basic principle we follow in Lent enables us to refocus our attention to God who loves us and is willing to know and to spend some time with us.
And so, when you go home after this Mass, you may come to meet a “Samaritan Woman.” Ask her who she is; tell her who you are; and spend some time with her no matter how little time you have but in loving service. Do the “Samaritans” of today have a place in your life right now? If not, then “Go, and make your own dirt!”