Conversion of a city

by Shiu Lan
Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8

John 4:5-15, 19B-26, 39A, 40-42

The conversion of a city begins with Jesus asking for a drink of water from a Samaritan woman at the well. She comes to get water to quench her thirst. But coming to get water in the heat of the midday sun must have worsened her thirst; others would get their water in the early morning when the air is cool. From her conversation with Jesus, we know her life story. Maybe she wants to avoid others who may look down upon her, a woman with five husbands and now living with someone who is not her husband. The thirst to free herself from this bondage in her soul must be harder to bear than the thirst for water.

When Jesus talks to her about the living water that He can give and whoever drinks of it will never be thirsty, she asks Jesus for it so that “[she] may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water” (John 4:15). She shows great faith, unlike her ancestors whom Moses brings out of Egypt. When the people are in the wilderness and thirst for water, they complain and put the Lord to the test, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:3,7)

When Jesus tells her that He is the Messiah (Ref. John 4:26), she leaves her water jar, runs back to the city – a Samaritan city called Sychar - and tells people to go see a man who “told [her] everything [she has] ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4: 39). She must be overwhelmed with excitement and joy that Jesus with whom she has a conversation at Jacob’s well could be the Messiah. She is so zealous in spreading the good news to her people that she leaves behind her water jar and the reason for her to come to the well. Many Samaritans from that city believe in Jesus because of her testimony. What a great example for us to follow; we must have passion in our hearts and a strong faith to share effectively the good news we have received with others!

At the request of the Samaritans, Jesus stays in the city for two days. After hearing for themselves, many more believe because of His word, they said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the World” (John 4:42).

Jesus creates the gift of faith in the Samaritan woman and kindles in her the fire of divine love (Ref. Preface for this Sunday’s Eucharistic Prayer). We, too, have a special grace from God. In the second reading, St. Paul proclaims that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” and “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5: 5, 8).

When the world is devastated by the spread of the novel virus, let us stay calm, and may this Lenten journey be a time for us to grow in God’s love, to imitate His kindness and generosity as we await Jesus’ glorious resurrection.