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On the Samaritan Woman

Thursday after the Third Sunday of Lent

On the Samaritan Woman

The woman therefore left her waterpot, and went her way into the city. (John 4:28)

This woman, after Christ taught her, assumed the role of an apostle. From what she says and does, we can learn three things.

I. First, her affective devotion, which is revealed in two ways.

First, because her devotion was so great that she forgot why she had come to the well, and left without the water and her water jar. So he says, the woman therefore left her waterpot and went into the city, to announce all the wonders Christ had done; and she was not now concerned for her own bodily comfort but for the welfare of others. In this respect she was like the apostles, who leaving their nets, followed the Lord (Matt 4:20). The water jar is a symbol of worldly desires, by which men draw out pleasures from the depths of darkness—symbolized by the well—i.e., from a worldly manner of life. Accordingly, those who abandon worldly desires for the sake of God leave their water jars: no soldier of God becomes entangled in the business of this world (2 Tim 2:4).

Second, we see her affection from the great number of those to whom she brings the news: not to just one or two, but to the entire town

II. Second, her way of preaching. She first invites them to see Christ, saying, come, and see a man. Although she had heard Christ say that he was the Christ, she did not at once tell the people that they should come to the Christ, or believe, so as not to give them a reason for scoffing. So at first she mentions things that were believable and evident about Christ, as that he was a man. Neither did she say: believe, but come, and see; for she was convinced that if they were to taste from that well by seeing him, they would be affected in the same way she was. In this she is imitating the example of a true preacher, not calling men to himself, but to Christ.

Second, she mentions a clue to Christ’s divinity, saying, who has told me all things whatsoever that I have done, that is, how many husbands she had had. For it is the function and sign of the divinity to disclose hidden things and the secrets of hearts. Although the things she had done would cause her shame, she is still not ashamed to mention them; for as Chrysostom says: when the soul is on fire with the divine fire, it no longer pays attention to earthly things, neither to glory nor to shame, but only to that flame that holds it fast.

Third, she infers the greatness of Christ, saying, is it possible that he is the Christ? She did not dare to say that he was the Christ, lest she seem to be trying to teach them; they could have become angry at this and refuse to go with her. Yet she was not entirely silent on this point, but submitting it to their judgment, set it forth in the form of a question, saying, is it possible that he is the Christ? For this is an easier way to persuade someone.

III. The fruit of her preaching is given when he says, therefore they went out of the city, to where she had returned, to meet him, Christ. We see by this that if we desire to come to Christ, we must set out from the town, i.e., leave behind our carnal desires: let us go out to him outside the camp, bearing the abuse he took (Heb 13:13).

(Selections from Ioan.C4.L3)

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