Third Sunday in Lent
Repeatedly in John’s Gospel (and throughout the New Testament) people misunderstand Jesus in their first encounter with him. The unnamed woman at Jacob’s well and all of Jesus’ disciples find themselves initially among this number. Some never come to know who he is. In her conversation with Jesus, the Samaritan woman slowly moves from unbelief to belief, from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from misunderstanding to understanding. The characteristic of this story is that there is both good news and bad news. There is good news for anyone who has ever felt humiliation or disapproval or the pain of being a nobody, because Jesus does not turn away from this woman. On the contrary, he engages her in conversation, takes her seriously, and spends several days in her village. This woman matters to Jesus: that is the good news. It is also challenging news, because it reminds churches and its members, us, that people who are nobodies to us may be somebodies in the eyes of Jesus. Who are those nobodies? They are the people we ignore. Maybe they are seated next to us in church, or the strangers who walk through our doors. We often prefer to leave out the nobodies, but Jesus does not do that. He welcomes outsiders, as well as insiders, into discipleship. He loves us all in spite of all our shortcomings. Think about how every action we do has an influence on the people we talk to or those we ignore. How do we best model Jesus’ character in breaking the boundaries or walls we put up that stop us from being a welcoming and inclusive church? The woman begins her story as an outsider and becomes a witness. As such she is a model for all men and women and for people who feel like nobodies. During our Lenten journey, may our lives and actions lead people to experience the love of Jesus for themselves and believe. Remember, Jesus encounters and welcomes many into the household of faith – even the least likely and maybe, even, you and me.