By Deacon Derick Cranston
How far would you go to live as Christ lived? Would you challenge unjust social structures and norms that exclude others? Would you risk ostracism by your peers? In the Gospel passage about the Samaritan woman at the well, this is exactly what Jesus does, in merely asking for a drink of water.
However, this is no simple request. There are layers upon layers of meaning, the first layer being the request that Jesus made to a Samaritan woman. At this point, a deep social and cultural chasm surfaces. Her stunned reply to Jesus, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” gives us the first hint of the gulf that separates them.
To understand her shock, think of someone who is the total opposite of you. A person who has religious, political and social views that go against everything you stand for and believe. Now imagine this person asks a very big favor. A favor that puts you at great risk. Would you do it?
The Samaritan woman takes that risk and finds that Jesus is the living water, the source of eternal life. This underscores the importance of Christ in our life and provides us with a great lesson. We must not discriminate against people because of their beliefs, race or culture.
Living out your faith is not about you and God. It is following the example of the Samaritan woman who went to her people and called them to see Christ. It is about drinking from the wellspring of God’s eternal love and bringing his love to others.
If we connect ourselves to the eternal living water, we can know God and make God known. First, we must admit our shortcomings and our propensity to erect walls to close off people we deem to be different.
We cannot deny water to those who are thirsting for God’s love. We should become a conduit of that love and let it freely flow to those most in need. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Lord, make me a channel of your peace … for it is in giving that we receive. And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.”
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at email@example.com.)