Jakarta, 19 March 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD UNWANTED PEOPLE
(A biblical reflection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A], 19 March 2017)
Gospel Reading: John 4:5-42
First Reading: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalms: Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Second Reading: Romans 5:1-2,5-8
So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was with His journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “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.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and You say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Just then His disciples came. They marvelled that He was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do You wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to Him.
Meanwhile the disciples besought Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought Him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His words. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:5-42 RSV)
After King Solomon died, the land of the Jews divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, with each kingdom having its own king, its own army, and its own capital. The capital in the northern kingdom was Samaria and the capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem, the city where the Jewish Temple was located. Citizens of both kingdoms visited the Temple because it was only place where the Jews could offer sacrifices to God.
In 721 B.C., the Assyrians attacked and conquered the Jews of the northern kingdom and took all able-bodied Jewish men, women, and children into exile. Assyrians immigrated to the northern kingdom and some of them converted to Judaism after marrying Jewish woman. Because these Assyrian/Jewish couples lived in Samaria, we call their children Samaritans.
Since the Samaritans were only half Jewish and were descendants of the Assyrians, the Jews in the southern kingdom despised them and even called them dogs.
Because of their mutual dislike, Jews and Samaritans normally did not talk to each other and some rabbis even went so far as to teach that Jews who passed through Samaritan territory should shake dust from their feet before entering Jewish lands so Jewish soil would not be contaminated with Samaritan dust.
Since the Jewish religious leaders did not allow them to offer sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed it was the only place sacrifices could be legitimately offered to God. Gerizim is the mountain the woman refers to in today’s reading (John 4:20).
Finally, because first-century Palestinian Judaism was a male-dominated religion, some Jewish men thanked God every morning they were not females, and the rabbis occasionally debated if women had souls. The social customs of the time even frowned on a Jewish man speaking to a woman in public. When you consider all of this, it’s easy to understand why the Samaritan woman was surprised Jesus talked to her.
(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels, San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, Inc., 1992, pages 24-25)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in our society there are also unwanted people, others don’t want to associate with. Thank you Lord Jesus for today’s Gospel. Here, You give us the example of the correct attitude toward these people. Jesus, today I invite You to be the Lord of my life. I will leave behind my old water jar, my old ways of seeking fulfilment. I seek You instead. Fill me with Your living water today so that I will never thirst again. Amen.
Jakarta, 19 March 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
JESUS’ LOVE IS EVERLASTING 
If people loved Jesus, it was because He first loved them. Jesus did not wait for people to seek Him out. He took the initiative in reaching out toward them, molding His approach to meet their specific needs. His love was truly spontaneous.
The invitations He extended to His future apostles to follow Him were adapted to their personalities and met them where they were. Hence, they embodied a special appeal. Simon Peter and His brother, Andrew, were both fishermen. So Jesus said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). In drawing Nathanael to Himself, Jesus gave him a taste of His extrasensory powers. As Nathanael was walking toward Him, Jesus said: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” These words of Jesus really hit home. Nathanael suddenly realized that Jesus was no ordinary person. “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:47-51).
Jesus also approached sinners in a determined way. Zacchaeus was a senior tax collector in Jericho. Too short to see Jesus in the crowd that surrounded Him, He climbed a sycamore tree to obtain a glimpse of Him. Jesus spotted him and invited Himself to his house. Zacchaeus was delighted and hurried down from his perch. But the fact that Jesus intended to stay at the home of a chief tax collector stirred criticism. Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore if fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:8-9). In His concern for Zacchaeus, Jesus had found the key to unlock his heart.
In His encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, Jesus revealed to her the sorry state of her soul. She had had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband. The woman immediately recognized Jesus to be a prophet. But Jesus told her that He was more than merely a prophet. He was the long-awaited Messiah. “I who speak to you am He.” Overwhelmed, the woman ran into the city and brought back the townspeople to meet Jesus. Along with the woman, many of them came to believe in Jesus as the Savior (John 4:5-42). Jesus had, and still has, just the right touch.
Jesus also reached out in love to the scribes and Pharisees. Unlike other groups, however, they were self-righteous and did not admit their sinfulness. Jesus therefore tried to shake them up, these pretentious men. He attempted to penetrate their protective armor that the grace of God might permeate their souls. He lashed out vehemently at them. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead man’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). “I told you that you would die in your sins unless you believe that I am He” (John 8:24).
Jesus tried to get the scribes and Pharisees to change their ways. He made great use of parables or stories that carried a moral lesson. [to be continued]
Jakarta, 12th of June 2013
A Christian Pilgrim
WE are dependent on water. This is a fact of life! If we were to go even a day without water, we would feel the effects: lack of energy, inability to concentrate, headaches, dizziness, and worse. Several days without water would bring us to death. This rarely occurs to people living in developed/advanced countries because water is plentiful. Whenever someone feels thirsty, she/he has only to go to the kitchen sink, fill up her/his glass, and quench her/his thirst. In general, however, this is not the case in the undeveloped or backward countries, especially among the people living in the remote areas, far from the big cities.
In the Middle East during Jesus’ time water was a precious commodity. A village’s well was one of its most important resources. It was frequently the meeting-place for women who came to draw water for their homes. During times of battle, whoever controlled the well controlled the village. To lose one’s well was to lose one’s hope of life and strength.
How similar this is to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts! In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Saint John illustrates how Jesus can satisfy our spiritual thirst, just as water satisfies our bodily thirst (John 4:1-42). Imagine this woman coming every day to lower her bucket into the well; the task – like her whole life – surely must have become wearisome. Yet, on this particular day, her weariness encountered Jesus’ promise: “… whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14 RSV). Thirsty for the Gospel, the woman pressed Jesus for more answers. By the time she was done, she had discovered that even she – a sinful, Samaritan women – could worship God and experience His presence (John 4:24-25). She received forgiveness and freedom from the chains of adultery (John 4:17-18). And, she was so excited about discovering Jesus that she told everyone in her town about Him (John 4:29).
During this Easter season, we too are invited to drink of the living water. Jesus wants our lives to flourish, just as this Samaritan woman was transformed. All He asks if that we seek Him with the same attitude that this Samaritan has; “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (John 4:15). During this Easter season, do not miss any opportunity to ask Jesus to give each of us His living water. In our daily prayers, let us turn to Him with all our hearts and ask Him for another drink of His Spirit, and immerse ourselves in the river of worship and adoration of Jesus. As we encounter Jesus, our burdens can be lifted, and the chains of sin can be broken. Every day, Jesus cries out, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). So, let us come to Him today and drink the waters of His life.
Jakarta, 2nd of April 2013
A Christian Pilgrim