In the story of the Woman at the Well, Jesus created a masterpiece of evangelization. He created a place of quiet at noontime, after He sent His disciples off to buy some provisions. Country people frequently seek shelter from the sun at noon when they wish to get a bite to eat and a drink of water.
Take a look at His main character, this Samaritan woman who was married five times. She does not want to be seen by her fellow Samaritans who know that she has multiple marriages. She goes to the well when the rest of the villagers are in their homes getting lunch, not wanting to run into anyone who knows anything about her, and she runs into Jesus who knows it all!
Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, opens up the conversation with this woman by simply asking her for a drink. The Samaritan woman replied: “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. Jesus answered, “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.”
At this point she must be aware that He has treated her with great dignity. He is a Jewish rabbi talking to a Samaritan and apparently doesn’t even know her credentials yet. However, she is rapidly giving Him her story.
He moves the conversation forward a little more rapidly than she would like. When He said: “Go call your husband,” she thought that she was finally getting off the hook! When she says that she does not have a husband, Jesus responds: “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands …What you have said is true.”
At this stage the woman is mesmerized at all Jesus has told her. Even though Jesus knows that she has had five husbands, this rabbi continues to talk with her. She has probably never found anyone interested in continuing to dialogue with her, even though they knew her whole sordid past.
This acceptance of her past convinced her to feel at home with Him and then go into the previous company and invite her best friends to come visit Jesus. Apparently, all the stigma that she associated with herself was no longer a stigma. She went to the Samaritans and told them: “Come see a man who has told me everything I have done. Could He possibly be the Christ?”
Jesus had listened to her sordid life’s details, and she no longer experienced others’ scorn for her. By listening with compassion and love to the Samaritan woman, Jesus reconciled her with her immediate neighbors, with her fellow Samaritans, and with the Jews. Jesus gave her a safe place in which to share her burdens and receive reconciliation. If we listen to the heart of broken mankind with the heart of God, we will give them the heart of God. That is evangelization.
Let us take a brief look at the first and second reading. In this first reading, God is liberating His people from slavery; however, from mankind’s perspective it can’t happen soon enough. It seems God is trying to build up Moses as a man with whom Pharaoh has to reckon. He also wants to do this in the presence of Pharaoh. That this is happening to Moses in the presence of his elders is Godly support, which Moses sorely needs.
In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul tells us how the “love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” As you and I look lovingly upon Our Lord and Savior on the cross, how can we ever run away in fear? When we see the intensity of our Savior’s love for us, how can we not be drawn to Him, no matter what our past deeds have been?
This does not mean that we do not feel His wounds and His bruises. Rather it means that the more we meditate on the pain He is bearing for our sake, the more the sufferings bother us, and the more we appreciate the painful cost of our sins.
During Lent, I most heartily encourage making the Stations of the Cross, as well as the daily recitation of the Rosary. You may want to offer them up for a specific person. You might want to also befriend that person from time to time, offering a word of hope and encouragement.
One thing you will discover from a well-made Lent is that inside you are becoming so much quieter. There is less inner disturbance and more inner quiet. You are less tense because you have fewer ego concerns. It is so much easier to enter into quiet prayer. Money may buy you a quiet place away from all the noise, but it cannot buy inner peace. That comes free or it doesn’t come at all.