By Sarah Damm
The Gospel reading about the Woman at the Well (John 4:5-42) is very common during the season of Lent, and over the years, it has become one of my favorites.
Several years ago, I attended a women’s retreat, and an image of the Woman at the Well was the focal point. A small holy card was taped onto our retreat journals. Large posters with the image on it surrounded our meeting room. And every time I gazed upon it, I saw myself. I was the woman at the well. I was the woman in need of a drink. I was the one who Jesus was looking so intently at with those eyes of love.
Can you picture yourself as the woman? We may know intellectually that she is the Samaritan woman, but couldn’t she be any one of us?
Here is this woman, encountering Jesus. At first, she does not understand Him. Maybe she does not feel worthy of talking with Him, for she is a woman after all, and a Samaritan woman at that.
But with such love, He sits and talks to her. And in that moment, she is the only one who matters to Him.
He offers her water, life-giving water, that she may thirst no more but be filled completely.
And even though she reveals her past to Him, He doesn’t turn away. Rather, with mercy and love, He draws her closer unto Himself.
It is clear she has faith in the One who is to come, and when He tells her He is the Messiah, she cannot help but tell everyone around her about Him.
And so it is with me …
Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly be loved by Jesus. My sin is too big. My fear gets in the way. My past mistakes haunt me. I am bound by a spirit of regret, anger, despair, and doubt.
Jesus does love me—and each one of you, too. Our faith tells us this, Scripture reveals this to us, the Church teaches this, and so it is true. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you.
He wants us to come to Him like that woman did. He wants us to sit at His feet. He wants that time when it is just Him and us. He wants us to believe that we are that important to Him, because we are. He wants to fill us with life-giving water to banish once-and-for-all our sin, our fear, our doubt, and be redeemed by His overflowing mercy and love.
Each Lent, we have this incredible, set-aside time to meet Jesus at the well. To drink deeply of His mercy, healing, forgiveness, love, grace, and peace. To come back again and again for more. The Sacrament of Confession is the well of our day, and Jesus is just waiting to lavishly pour out His mercy upon us, if only we ask and are open to receiving all that He has for us.
I hope to meet Him at the well to receive. But I also hope to meet Him so that I may sacrifice with Him, as He journeys to Calvary. May I love Him by taking up my own cross along side His. That in my sufferings, I may experience Resurrection in the most fulfilling way possible. Deeply. Purely. Completely. Lovingly.
And then after I do this, like the Samaritan woman, may I share this faith, this truth, this love with others—my family, my friends, anyone God places in my life—so that they may drink deeply, too.
This Lent, and always, let us be like the Woman at the Well, so we may thirst no more.