Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Devotional – 3rd Week of Lent – Sunday – Cycle A – John 4:5-42
Returning from Judea, Christ purposefully travels through Samaria to evangelize the Samaritans, a semi-pagan people with Jewish roots who were held in contempt by Israel. After the Assyrian exile of Israel, Jews left behind intermarried with five pagan tribes and worshiped Baal (“lord”, “husband”), with worship practices that combined Jewish and pagan elements. Christ travels to Samaria to demonstrate His universal call to conversion of all people and prepare the disciples to evangelize the whole world.
Christ, tired and thirsty after walking many miles, rests in the heat of the day by Jacob’s well. The Samaritan woman is an outcast shunned by other women, perhaps due to her dissolute life of serial marriages, comes alone at the hottest part of the day to draw water where Christ waits. Christ, breaking all norms (men don’t talk to strange women, Jews avoid Samaritans, rabbis do not speak with fallen women), engages the woman with supernatural insights into her life (married five times and now in an adulterous relationship), teaches her of the Father and the Spirit and ultimately reveals that He is the long-awaited Messiah. First reluctant, the Samaritan woman experiences a conversion, calling Him, in turn, “sir”, “prophet”, “Christ” and “Savior of the World.” Convinced, the woman leaves and returns with many from the village who are also converted.
Returning from the village with food, the disciples are shocked to find Christ speaking with a Samaritan woman but are afraid to discuss it with Him. Responding to the disciples’ concern about His hunger, Christ says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work”; the “work” is to go into the world and “harvest” souls for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Demonstrating the rich yield of a whole Samaritan town brought to God, Christ both exhorts the disciples about the urgent need to evangelize the world and demonstrates how to do so.
1) Marvel at how Christ magnificently uses the physical need for water (thirst) at a well to teach the truth of deeper human need for the “living water” of eternal life in the Holy Spirit (CCC 694, 2557,2560-2561).
2) During Lent, recall the spectacular Graces freely given to you in the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 1262-1277) and pray for Christ to help you renew and live up to your Baptismal vows each day.
3) During Lent, reflect upon the Holy Spirit (CCC 683-747) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit so you can grow in faith, hope and charity.