Fr Brendan Byrne reflects on this weekend’s Gospel:
Weary and thirsty from his journey, Jesus asks a Samaritan Woman to give him a drink. Soon, however, he begins to convince her that he has a far greater gift to give her: not the inert water of a well but ‘living water’, the life-giving gift of the Spirit.
The woman half grasps his meaning but can go no further. Like all who reach a certain stage in the spiritual life, her knowledge of Jesus cannot go forward until the truth of her own life has been owned and set on the way to healing. That is why Jesus instructs her, ‘Go, call your husband’.
Jesus’ knowledge of her personal life leads the woman to recognize him as a religious expert (a ‘prophet’). So she brings up the subject of worship, a key matter of dispute between Jews and Samaritans. But Jesus speaks of a ‘worship’ transcending these divisions: a worship of God from hearts transformed by the Spirit of truth, the truth to which Jesus is gently leading her.
Later, the woman will exclaim to her townsfolk ‘Come and see a man who has told me the story of my life’. That is not the usual translation of her words but it is a wonderful description of pastoral and spiritual direction: Come and see a man who shown me how my life, in all its ups and downs, its wrongs turns and failures, is nonetheless a meaningful story that God’s grace is weaving through the power of the Spirit.