This unnamed woman could have been any one of us. She comes to the well in the heat of the day. She is alone, ashamed, and excluded from the community. All the other women came to the well in the cool of the day. She comes to the well at 12 o’clock noon, after the others had left. It seemed like an ordinary day since she went to the well every day. But this day would be different. This ordinary day will become the first day of a new life. The Gospel describes a simple encounter with Jesus, who initiates a conversation with her. The story ends with the woman being restored to dignity within the community, and with the whole town coming to find Jesus, and proclaiming him the Savior of the world. It is a testament as to how our lives can change by being honest with God.
When Jesus says something to her, the woman is shocked. She wonders even in a critical way as to why Jesus is talking to her. To her credit, she does not try to hide her faults with Jesus. She admits that she has five husbands, and that she is living with a man who is not her husband. One of the first signs of conversion is honesty. It is admitting our sins and not lying to God about them. Covering up our sins shows that we want to continue doing them. But Jesus gives her credit for being honest.
Gradually, she realizes that Jesus is a prophet, and then concludes that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus does not judge her. She does not feel condemned, but forgiven. This is the beginning of her new life. She forgets her bucket and why she came to the well. When we have a new life, the past is forgiven, and we start anew. She is so excited that she goes back into town and tells everyone that she has found the Messiah. This is what we mean by evangelization. When we are truly inspired and excited about an encounter with Jesus, we naturally want to tell everyone we meet. It’s what happens when we fall in love. We want to tell everyone. The woman is so joyful that now she has credibility in the town, and they all accept her and want to meet Jesus. We can do it too. All we need to do is to tell others that we attend Mass; that we go to church; that we are seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus; that we have found the Messiah, the one who has been born to save us from our sins, and to give us eternal life. Then, let the conversation take it to where it should go.
In order for us to know the joy of forgiveness, we first have to recognize that we are sinners. If we do not think of ourselves as sinners, then we have little understanding about the joy of forgiveness. What the Second Reading says that is even while we were sinners, Jesus still came to earth to die for us. In order to know the joy of forgiveness, we first have to admit we are sinners. Knowing the joy of forgiveness give us life. We suddenly have a sense of self worth, that someone loves me; and that our lives are important. This newfound faith gives us a foundation for our lives.
Today, Jesus starts a conversation with us. Once we are honest with God about ourselves, we can open our minds and hearts to conversion. First, our minds must be convinced that we are speaking with Jesus; that Jesus has the power to transform us; and that we are willing to be transformed by Jesus. It may be that we have to gradually come to that conclusion, as the woman did. Then, as we understand the forgiveness of God, our hearts may begin to change. We can see life from a new perspective. We start a new life. We can announce all our friends and neighbors that Jesus has forgiven our sins and has given us life-giving water.
This is a good week to make a plan to go confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It may be time to start a new life.