March 12, 2023
by Larry Gillick S.J.
Creighton University's The Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Third Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 28

Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
John 4:5-42

Praying Lent

A Contemplation on the Woman at the Well
for the Third Sunday of Lent

The Third Week of Lent - 20 min. - Text Transcript

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Stations of the Cross

Understanding the Scrutinies

Beginning with today’s Eucharistic Liturgy we will be reading and hearing stories from John’s Gospel for the next two weeks as well. There are many symbols and images there for our pondering and profit. For a deeper understanding of these Readings, it would be helpful to return to the first nineteen verses in chapter one, (The Prologue) in which key symbols are presented as hints to a clearer understanding and receiving the Jesus within John’s whole Gospel.

Jesus is “The word” to be heard, “The Life” to be lived, and “The Light” to be seen. This Word, Life and Light becomes flesh to speak and be taken in. This Life is to be lived and shared. This Light is both to be seen and to be displayed by all who hear, live and see.

John uses often the light of the sun and the darkness of night as images of good things happening and bad as well. In today’s Gospel the event takes place at noon. Obviously there is much in today’s Readings about water and thirst and grumbling. In our First Reading from Exodus the very last verse is the central theme, “Is the Lord in our midst or not? ”Our Gospel answers this!

Light is both seen and shines so that all else can be seen. Next Sunday’s Gospel will be all about the Light curing the inability to see, the inability to believe. Today’s Gospel in the mid-day light has Jesus offering Life to not only a woman of her culture, but a woman from an alien group. She gets more than she is asking for. The Word, the Life and the Light are offering a new way of her seeing herself and she hears, receives and returns having a changed vision of herself, her identity, her dignity. She leaves her old water jar and returns inviting other villagers to “come see: a man Who has given her a new sight of belief in Him and herself.

Where is Lent for us in all this? Well, the women of the village usually came to the well very early in the morning. This woman was excluded from that water brigade, because of her multi-marriage life style. Jesus addresses her first and by doing so begins helping her see herself, because of His being the Light. As mentioned, she leaves behind her old jar, (identity) and returns with a new “water welling up to eternal Life”. 

Whatever we are giving up or away this Lent, whatever “jar”, it seems that it is Lent if letting it go allows for more going out, going into, bringing Light, Life and Jesus into community rather than doing a penance just for ourselves. The old “jar” is the symbol for our old image which keeps us less relational. Jesus as Light shines upon our whole self, not just our darkness. Jesus invites rather than indicts and this leads us to Easter!

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