Call these “glimpses”- not full blown studies but opportunities to have a fresh look at biblical women and men as we draw closer to Holy Week and Easter. Two nameless people – the woman at the well and the man born blind encounter Jesus in separate stories in the Gospel of John. We hear their stories on the Third and fourth Sundays of Lent. The fact that they are nameless is an invitation for us to take on their personas, to become the Samaritan woman and the man born blind.
The Samaritan woman came to the well at noon, at a time when other women would not be there. She could not bear to interact with other women because her five husbands stood in the way. Jesus was different. He was thirsty and asked the woman for water. He had no vessel to get it for himself. She ended up asking him for living water, which will quench her thirst once and for all. What of our history drags us down and limits our interactions with the people of our town, city, street? What do we do when we encounter Jesus? Do we share water - ordinary water and the water of life? Do we brave our past and go to the people we know to tell them that Jesus is the awaited one?
The nameless man born blind was shepherded by his parents until this day when Jesus found him, and opened his eyes. Then, the man’s parents left him and he was, by himself, subjected to interrogation by the Pharisees. (Later Jesus would also be left alone, and questioned in a cruel way.) The nameless, now-sighted man kept growing in conviction as he answered their questions. Eventually, Jesus found him again, and revealed himself as the awaited Anointed One.
It’s a very long journey from blindness to sight. Most often we carry our blindness alone, accommodate to it until Jesus stands before us, touches us, urges us to take the next steps if we want to see.
In our daily living, we can become more remote like the woman at the well, or more comfortable In our blindness. More intractable. Or we can become connected to others by sharing thirst-quenching water and insight.
It is not enough for us to take what the water giver offers. We need to become the water giver. It is not enough for us to see. We need to move away from social prejudice, cultural obsessions and blindspots toward a sense of connectedness with the people and with the earth.
“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages;
we are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability… and that it may take a very long time.”
( Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to his cousin, Marguerite Teilhard, July 4, 1915)
~Joan Sobala, SSJ