Introduction: the text of John 4:20-30 is the continuation of our last Lectio Divina which introduced the conversation of Jesus with the Samaritan woman and progressively going further in their relationship, to a spiritual level, whereby after Jesus making her aware of her personal situation in her current life he tells her the truth about herself and her own kind. She then not only recognises him as a prophet but also opens the conversation about her believes which Jesus challenged.
Give me the grace to grow in my relationship
with your Son Jesus;
free me from any resistance
or obstacle that can impede
his acceptance in my life,
so that he may bring
purpose and meaning to my existence.
- Read the text John 4:20-30 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: This second part deals with “the conversion (vrs 21-26) and the mission of the Samaritan woman” (vrs 28-30). In the scriptures any encounter with Jesus ends up with two different implications a) a deep and radical personal transformation, and b) an attraction or invitation to discipleship which would entails mission, the sending out to bear witness of the encountered.
Central Message: …”I see you are a prophet, sir…Our Fathers worshipped on this mountain…You worship what you don’t know; we worship what we do know. The hour will come –in fact it is here already- when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people ‘come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did’…”
a)…’I see you are a prophet, sir’… After Jesus had told the whole truth about her status and her personal life, she realised that Jesus was not an ordinary Jew braking all the Jewish protocols “Jews do not associate with Samaritans”, with idle worshipers, with adulterous and impure people (Jn 4:9). She identifies Jesus as a prophet and gives him a Divine title ‘Sir’, Lord. This indicates that she is entered into a different level of her conversation with Jesus, the spiritual and religious level. At this stage she realises that Jesus had reached the depths of her heart and that he knows what was in her heart as Psalm 139:3 says, Lord “you know every detail of my conduct” “you know everything”. At this instance the woman’s life begins to change; Jesus’ water is making its effect: cleansing, purifying, and quenching the thirst for the truth. She is experience a new life, the ‘New Life’ in the Spirit as Jesus tells Nicodemus which is “to be born from above” born of the Spirit (Jn 3:3-5). The woman started a new faith-life journey with Jesus the spring of living water who will quench her thirst.
b) …Our fathers worshipped on this mountain…you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship”: Here the woman opens another door in her conversation with Jesus, the door of religion. Perhaps unconsciously she tries to divert the conversation because she may have found Jesus’ offer too difficult or too challenging because it implied a radical change in her entire life. So she talks about worshiping on the mountain and Jesus kind of gently corrects her putting an Object to the verb “to worship the Father”; in a sense he reproaches her saying “you worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know” and we worship the Father in spirit and truth. In Spirit, because is the inspire principle of the new worship of God; the Spirit that makes all things new. In truth, because it is the only worship that meets the conditions revealed by God through Jesus. In other words the worship is done by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and through Jesus who is God’s revelation. Then the woman goes on to say “I know that the Messiah is coming and when he comes he will tell us everything” (ver. 26). At this Jesus reveals for the first time the great secret to a Samaritan woman that he is indeed the Messiah, the awaited one. It’s as if everything freezes for the woman at the hearing such revelation. But at the same time it seems that everything comes into place, her life now makes sense in the presence and in the person of Jesus.
c) …“The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people ‘come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did’…” The Samaritan woman was so affected by the encounter with Jesus that she hurry back home to share with her country people what Jesus told her she did in her past life. The Jar that she used to carry back and forth every day for a long distance was left behind, ‘put down’. That meant that once and for all she will not carry any longer with her past life on her shoulders; she made a decision to leave everything behind and experience a new life offered by Jesus. So she hurried back home to share with her people what happened to her as she met Jesus. She experience such liberation from her immoral past life, because she felt accepted, respect and forgiven by Jesus. She put down her burden, her past life and found a new life in Jesus; she found what she was looking for, the fullness of life. After that encounter she became Jesus’ missionary among her people giving witness of him. Her neighbours where amused by the words and the transformation of the woman who used to be known as the ‘public lover’. She preached to them with few words “come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did” and she converted the whole village becoming believers. They too had a personal encounter with Jesus, they heard him by their own ear and professed their faith in him identifying him as their Saviour, “we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world” (Jn 4:42).
Some questions for our reflexion:
- How was your encounter with Jesus and what effect it made to your life?
- What are the burdens you need to leave behind or put down in order to go forward to meet Jesus?
- What obstacles do you encounter that keep you from talking to others about your experience of Christ?