Third Sunday of Lent
EX 17:3-7/ROM 5:1-2, 5-8/JN 4:5-42
If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.
What if we don’t hear God’s voice because we’re not listening?
When I hear the Gospels, I find myself wanting to identify with Jesus: to be wise, inspired, and teaching truth to others. But if I am honest with myself, I need to identify with the woman at the well who struggles to hear what Jesus is saying.
I wish we knew her name - this woman of Samaria - to identify her by more than just her town and a barrier of difference. When she arrives at the well and Jesus asks her for a drink, she hears him only enough to defensively raise that barrier: “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Jesus responds by turning the conversation from well water to living water, but the woman still does not hear. She is focused on the deep cistern and Jesus with no bucket in sight. She claims the well in Jacob’s name and for her own community, again raising barriers rather than carefully listening.
When she does ask for the water Jesus offers, He responds with the truth about her several husbands: not so much in reprimand, but as a way of getting her attention. She is hearing him now as a prophet and not as a thirsty stranger. Yet she responds by raising yet another difference between them: where to worship, on this mountain or in Jerusalem? And once again, Jesus shifts the conversation by affirming neither place, instead teaching that the time has come to worship in spirit and in truth. Listening carefully, she asserts: “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” And now that she hears and her heart is open, Jesus reveals Himself to her: “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
Today’s scriptures remind us to hear each other in the midst of difference, of politics, of polarization. May we listen carefully to hear God’s voice – in each other and across our differences – and harden not our hearts that the truth may be revealed.
Mike Klein, Ed.D.
Associate Professor and Program Director, Justice and Peace Studies