A Couple of Liberating Details

Monday, February 25, 2013 — Week of Lent 2 (Year One)

John Roberts, Priest, 1949

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 952)

Psalms 56, 57, [58] (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)

Jeremiah 1:11-19

Romans 1:1-15

John 4:27-42

Here are a couple of interesting little details from today’s gospel reading.

First, in this little epilogue from the wonderful story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, it seems interesting that she leaves her water jar right there at the well as she returns to the city. She is a woman who is coming at the hottest time of the day to get water. Maybe that is because of some remarkable need, or maybe it is because she is shunned and ostracized because of her past, and so she avoids the well in the cooler morning when many other women would be present. In an arid climate, her errands is crucial. Water is essential and precious.

Her conversation with Jesus focused on water as a metaphor for his gift of eternal life — a life that quenches our deepest thirsts. In Jesus she finds life-giving water. Then she leaves, not needing the water jar, and she speaks to her community of the mysterious man she has met.

Maybe her leaving the water jar behind is a metaphor for her leaving behind the hurt and guilt of her past. Maybe it is a sign of her being fulfilled and quenched with new refreshment. What freedom she must have felt! Maybe she will no longer need to lug that heavy jar at mid-day, symbol of all of her burdens.

The other little thing that caught my attention was that Jesus stayed two days in the Samaritan village. That’s remarkable. Jewish travelers going from Galilee to Jerusalem customarily would go to great lengths to avoid traveling through Samaria, crossing the Jordan into another country, making a long, circuitous route rather than taking the direct road through Samaria. They were avoiding not only the ritual uncleanness that incurred over having an encounter with the Samaritans, but they were also avoiding the frequent inhospitable clashes and hostilities that commonly flared between Jews and Samaritans. A proper Rabbi would never stay two days in Samaria.

The story is another sign of Jesus’ remarkable willingness to reach beyond cultural, religious and moral barriers to connect compassionately with human beings of diverse circumstance.

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