by Mary Sue Callan-Farley, director of Campus Ministry
This reflection focuses on the Gospel of John, 4:5-42.
The third Sunday of Lent, March 24, is also Feast Day, a day in honor of St. Oscar Romero, who was assassinated on this day in 1980 while celebrating the Eucharist in El Salvador. Archbishop Romero was canonized on Oct. 14, 2018.
In this Gospel, Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at a well. It is here that Jesus enters into her isolation.
She was at the well during the hottest period of the day, avoiding the judgment of others. People had already come to draw water and would have returned home. Jesus engaged her under the inquisitive watch of his disciples.
We have no idea why she lived in the company of six men, what troubles had befallen her or what protections she negotiated in order to survive. She is surprised, as are the disciples, that Jesus would approach a Samaritan woman. She is surprised again that he knows her history.
He chooses her to herald him as Messiah, or as she says, “he who is called Christ.” Jesus sees her as more than the conditions of her existence. Jesus’ love — his offering of self without reserve to be “living water” — allows the Samaritan woman to imagine herself in a different relationship with the world.
By example, Jesus challenges his disciples to see the vulnerable Samaritan woman with new eyes.
St. Oscar Romero resounds Jesus’ unconditional love saying, “The transcendence that the Church preaches is not alienation; it is not going to heaven to think about eternal life and forget about the problems on earth. It’s a transcendence from the human heart. It is entering into the reality of a child, of the poor, of those wearing rags, of the sick, of a hovel, of a shack. It is going to share with them. And from the very heart of misery, of this situation, to transcend it, to elevate it, to promote it, and to say to them, ‘You aren’t trash. You aren’t marginalized.’ It is to say exactly the opposite, ‘You are valuable.’”
I encourage you to reflect on these questions:
- When have I judged myself as unworthy of Jesus’s love?
- Can I “give up” my self-loathing and see myself as Jesus does?
- When have I judged others based on their social status?
- Can I “give up” my prejudice against others?
- Am I willing to “give up” my old defenses and habits to be a herald of the good news and increase love in the world?
- What concrete action will I take on to end marginalization in my community?