Reflection for Sunday – March 19, 2017

Readings: Exodus 17: 3-7; Romans 5: 1-2, 5-8; John 4: 5-42
Preacher: Sr. Joan Sobala SSJ

In today’s Gospel, a woman of Samaria is seeking water from the village well. Her timing for arrival at the well bears the mark of a failed life. She encounters Jesus. They have an unexpected, long conversation. Hold this woman and Jesus in your thoughts as you hear another story.

This one is told by a prominent physician in our area. Let’s call him Dan. As a young medical student at Cornell, and recently engaged, Dan was assigned a two month study project at Yale. Understandably, Dan was not very happy about leaving for two months. His engagement was still a fragile bud.

Dan boarded a bus for New Haven. Along the way, there was a short layover. Dan walked dejectedly into the terminal, found a place at the lunch counter and ordered coffee. Sitting next to him was a middle-aged black woman, who looked at him and said ”Honey, You look dejected!” “I am,” Dan said. ”What’s wrong, honey?” Dan told her the story of his recent engagement and his sadness at leaving his fiancé for two months.
“Show me her picture,” the woman asked. “Oh, she’s beautiful,” the woman exuded. “Honey, marriage is wonderful. You’re going to have a long and happy life together. Now you just go and do what you gotta do.”
With that came the announcement of an arriving bus “Oh, my bus is here.” She walked out the door, and the bus bore her away. Dan says that single experience changed his attitude and his outlook on God and his life.

We have a lot in common with the Samaritan woman and the medical student. One was looking for water. The other wanted coffee. Each came wrapped in her or his own concerns…she with the scars of five failed marriages, he with the sadness of separation from his newly committed loved one.

In the midst of their own personal difficulties, the Samaritan woman met
the One who is the source of life and hope. The medical student met the messenger of the One who is the source of life and hope.

For each, the experience was life-changing. In that very human moment of seeking water and coffee, each of them encountered God in a whole new way.

You may still be thinking, “That’s not my life experience!” Maybe. Or maybe we have the experience of the Samaritan woman and the medical student but we just don’t recognize them.

Haven’t we ever had the experience of some person, some event, some situation that expanded our vision, deepened our awareness or sense of gratitude or touched us with a joy, a sense of awe, of wonder?
Driving to work, friends at parties, kids at school, listening to music, sexual love, shoveling snow, birthing, playing golf—in some ways, these are no different than looking for water or a cup of coffee. In these ordinary, insignificant or unlikely events of life, God is at the well, at the next seat at the counter.

If anything, as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, the Samaritan woman helps us to see our daily reality as the place where Jesus prepares us for the divine encounters ahead.

Sr. Joan Sobala, SSJ
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