I Am The Woman At The Well

There are few stories in Scripture that reach deeper into my heart, than the accounting of Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well. There is something about her, and her story, that pulls at me, reassures me, and reaffirms for me my own personal conversion of the heart. Who among us doesn’t forget sometimes just how loved we truly are? How often do we lose sight of Whose love really matters?

I, likely many of you reading this, was born into a solidly Catholic family. But, also like a lot of Catholics, my Catholic identity was largely relegated to Sunday and Wednesday. I received my early Sacraments “on time;” We were relatively consistent Sunday Mass attendees, but faith for me wasn’t personal. I never felt that I’d encountered Christ, and, frankly, it never really occurred to me that I ought to have. This, among various sins of the heart, like hubris, arrogance, and a fondness for the things of the world, made it easy for me to walk away from the Church for a number of years.

Like the woman at the well, I lived my life as I believed was best. I decided what was the right way to be kind and what it took to be a good person, and it was increasingly difficult to ignore the contribution this made to what were some not-so-great choices.

Fortunately, just as he does in our Gospel today, Jesus saw me at the well of my own life and didn’t wait for me to come to him. As the years passed, I began noticing his invitations to me to open my heart and let him in.

Jesus approaches us where we are. Whether we’re at a literal well, as in our passage, or, in my case at first, often in my car. I love to listen to music while I drive, particularly songs I can sing to, at a volume that’s, shall we say, rarely conducive to conversation. For a long time, Jesus would speak to me in random Christian praise and worship songs that I’d discover while toggling through stations. I began to actively seek out these messages of His unquestioning love for me that dug into my heart and made me feel something that I’d never felt before. I was beginning to recognize my own thirst and made a move toward the only well I’d ever known—finding myself at Mass again for the first time in many years. Sitting here at St. Peter’s, I began to understand that I was loved beyond all expectation.

The woman’s recognition of Jesus is only one part of this story, however. Like, her, we have to be ready to accept the invitation, to accept the care and love that is offered. God has already given His love. The story isn’t that it’s withheld and then somehow earned, or that we must make ourselves deserving before He loves us. The real story is that it’s there, already poured over us day after day and in every moment of our lives. Jesus approached the woman at the well and spoke with her before she was aware of her own beloved-ness. “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” My story isn’t that God’s grace didn’t appear, until those songs played on my radio. The story is that I finally sang along. I accepted that I was loved, and even more, that despite my flaws and sins, I was worthy of His love. I was thirsty, and I drank.

Once we accept His love, and more, accept our longing for it, we start to see, as she did, Who it is that loves us. We begin to see what our true hungers and thirsts are. Lent provides us with a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect on what it is that our hearts most desire and the one well from which we can draw what will satisfy them. We can consider those ways we are like her, for we all share her human tendency to fail to see how uniquely beautiful we have been created to be, and ask for the Living Water.

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

 

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