Summary: For the Samaritan woman at the water well the experience of meeting Jesus changed her life forever, we can share in her wonder.
Sharing the Wonder
Today’s gospel shows some astounding characteristics of Jesus.
He was talking to a Samaritan woman, holding a conversation with her, and this was unheard of for a Rabbis to do – this was just NOT done.
When Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’ her reaction was typical but to us astounding, ‘What! You a Jew, ask for a drink from a Samaritan woman?’
One of the most remarkable movements of modern times is Alcoholics Anonymous or AA, a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they might solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
Although it is not affiliated with any organised religion, AA was founded on Christian principles, and its success has spawned various other programmes such as Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.
A striking feature of AA is the degree to which social barriers are broken down; AA meetings are attended by diverse groups of people who would not normally associate with each other.
If you were to attend an AA meeting you could well end up sitting between a current member of parliament and someone who has just been released from prison; or between a person who is a household name and someone who has spent the last few years living under a bridge.
You would meet people who are very different from each other and yet have all been outcasts in their own individual ways.
This is one of the organisation's strengths - Instead of looking for differences, members look for similarities and avoid judging each other.
Nowhere is this more miraculous than in strife-torn countries where people who would otherwise have been enemies have found common ground in AA.
For example there was a Muslim alcoholic who attended his first AA meeting in Israel.
The other members of the group were all Jewish but there was no ill-feeling between them.
The Jewish alcoholics welcomed him with open arms, found him an Arabic copy of the AA Big Book and helped him take his first steps towards being sober.
For all of them, AA was a haven away from suicide bombings and counter strikes and a place where they could accept each other for who and what they were.
In AA there are no barriers of gender, class or race, and the unity in diversity that results helps members to achieve their primary purpose of staying sober and helping other alcoholics to achieve the same result.
When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, she was shocked.
The last thing she would have expected would have been for a Jew to speak to her, for to any other Jew, she would have been a complete outcast. (From a sermon by Darryl Ward, Once were Outcasts, 12/5/2009)
But more importantly the story also shows the effect Jesus has on a person.
She went to the water well to draw water and after meeting Jesus she rushed back to the village forgetting the very purpose for which she was there.
She even left behind the bucket of water.
She was so overcome by her experience and was in such a hurry to share what she had learnt with others that she left behind the water.
What she did can tell us so much about our own Christian experience and how Jesus can affect and transform our lives.
Her experience began with being confronted with her very self, as if she was looking into the mirror of her very soul.
Jesus told her all about her life – the good and the bad as if He had known her all her life – and so she saw herself as she really was.
Peter had a similar experience when he first met Jesus whilst he was working as a fisherman and all he could say was, ‘Depart from me for I am a sinful man.’
But Jesus saw into his heart and told him to follow Him and become a fisher of men.
So what did this women at the well experience, what made her change her life for the better, what did she tell her neighbours and friends?
• She was staggered by Jesus’ ability to see into her heart and probably even embarrassed.
Jesus was talking and understanding her, He did not condemn or criticise what He saw – He treated her as a human being.
Don’t forget she was a Samaritan and a women of a dubious life style – a style of life for which the Jews would condemn her to death by stoning.
But that did not matter to Jesus, He sees into her heart and loves her, he sees beyond the sin in her life and realises the potential in her for doing good and it is this that He encourages.