Today’s Gospel reading tells the quite familiar story of the Samaritan woman drawing water from the well. She comes to the well at noon (the sixth hour), and she unexpectedly encounters a man where she expected to find no one.
Why was she going to the well at the height of day anyway? Chances are excellent she went at that time to avoid encountering people. She was likely the talk of the town, owing to her numerous male companions. She knew who she was, what she was doing, and the shame she brought to the well that day.
And she encountered Christ.
Christ humbled Himself to ask her for a simple drink of water; thus He opened the door to a conversation and a much greater relationship. But the relationship really took off once the Christ called the woman out on her shortcomings.
It’s amazing to me to think about how we will rant and rave against our shortcomings and failures. I think, rightly considered, our shortcomings and failures can call us toward Christ. “Lord I need You because I shouted at my children,” “Lord I need You because I’m a rampant gossip,” “Lord I need You because I’m enslaved to my pride,” “Lord I need You because I neglect the work You have for me to do,” [ad naseum] The fact that we can go on and on and on [and on and on and on…] represents one of our many gifts from God to recognize our need for Him.
And we also live in a world where things are not quite right. “Lord we need You because children starve,” “Lord we need You because a tornado is bearing down,” “Lord we need You because people lack meaningful employment,” “Lord we need You because we have an abundance of armed conflicts,” [ad naseum].
Ironically, the Samaritan woman goes back to the village and reports that Christ told her everything that she has ever done. When Christ repeats the favor for the village, they too come to belief.
The story of the Samaritan woman is also quite odd in that we do not necessarily know what transpired with the man she was living with at the time. We imagine all sorts of outcomes. But what about the woman’s simple acknowledgment “Lord I need You because I cannot keep this relationship honorable without Your help”? Could it be that an encounter with Christ radically changed her situation owing simply and completely to His Presence?
I am not advocating a relaxed view of our shortcomings, but I do think that we need to put our shortcomings in a Christ-focused context if we will have any luck to reform our lives. It is a lot easier to hit a target if you aim for the bulls-eye. Also, if our circumstances change and one shortcoming no longer seems to represent why we think we need Christ, then I think God brings to mind another shortcoming to show us our need for Him. I need Grace because I’m not perfect; I need Mercy because I offend; I need Forgiveness because I fall short. But most importantly, I need Love because I am created.
So what would our lives look like if we thanked Christ for making our sins visible to us so we can see our need for Him? How good it is that He has so many different ways to remind us of our need for Him!