Scripture reference: John 4:1-42 (Jesus and the woman of Samaria)
Tonight’s passage is a well known one. I won’t rehash the story since you’ve probably heard it a zillion times in a zillion different ways and in a zillion sermons or meditations. And I know this story is probably being worked over for Women’s History Month. However, my focus for Lent is the Samaritan woman herself.
The Samaritan woman had the notoriety of having five husbands, and shacking up with a man during the time of the narration. We “enlightened” moderns look at this woman with pity and scorn at her situation. However we forget that the Samaritan woman is really us; and I say “us” because like her, we’re seeking.
First, the Samaritan woman was probably seeking for some emotional fulfillment with her going through six men. She married over and over again looking for someone to fill a “void”; and was trying with her current partner. Before we get judgmental, how many of us go through people-be it friends, lovers, spouses, partners, etc looking for some fulfillment? We sometimes go through sex partners like we do changes of underwear trying to find that “someone” who’ll fulfill our needs. And if not people, what about things? Who reading this hasn’t gone from job to job because it didn’t fulfill us professionally? Who hasn’t moved through more towns than a concert tour, looking for that place that touches us emotionally?
Second, the Samaritan woman was also seeking validation-like us. She carried a double-burden in the validation department. First, she was a Samaritan-a ethnic group looked down by Jews for their intermarrying with local peoples while “pure” Jews were in exile. Second, the woman’s sexual (let’s just say it) reputation has distanced her from others in her community. In fact, it’s common knowledge that water was drawn in the early morning whilst it was cool. The woman here came out during the day when it was hot (think Las Vegas or Phoenix) when she could be alone. We too seek validation-especially when our past or some “sin”marginalized us from others. We will do anything to receive validation-even at the cost of our self-esteem. Or if we can’t find that validation, we will be alone and cut ourselves off.
Last, yet just as important, the Samaritan woman was seeking answers that could not be answered in the ordinary. When Jesus offered her water from which she’ll never thirst again, girlfriend thought this offer will spare her going out to draw alone- or to ease the pain of her seeking validation. Yet Jesus saw into this woman’s life and knew she was seeking more than what life had given her. Heaven knows we’re doing the same in our day. We’re quickly-and painfully-finding out that life is not giving us what we thought it would and many of us are now seeking. Who’s to say that God is not calling us to something bigger and better than what we were handed?
At the end, the Samaritan woman was able to end her seeking. She found her answer in Christ, where she found fulfillment, validation, and her deeper questions answered.
Lent is a time for us to ponder on what we’re seeking. Are we seeking fulfillment from the transient things in life (including people)? Are we seeking validation from those who marginalized us; or if we’re not validated we withdraw? Are we seeking the answers to questions that cannot be easily furnished? Are there other things we’re seeking? As we seek, let us look to God for guidance and help, so like the Samaritan woman we too will find what we’re seeking.