Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday: History

The End of History

Today's gospel contains the focused drama of a short story; it is a virtual advertisement for the quality of the writing in the New Testament.
In it Christ meets the Samaritan woman at the Jacob's Well.

In this most social of places, she is alone, as is He. He asks her for a drink of water. And they talk. And it is clear something is wrong.

Just a few paragraphs and there is so much going on. She is a Samaritan-- of Jewish heritage yet disdained by the Jews--at a well originally owned by a Jewish patriarch of the Old Testament. It is noon, the heat is at its height--why is she there at that time of day? And why alone?

She is uncomfortable with a Jew--and a man--asking her for water. She begins to spar a bit with Him as to how worship should be performed. Christ asks her to bring her husband; she says she has none, Christ agrees with her yet corrects her: She has had five and her current man is not her husband.

Now it is clear. The woman goes for water at the worst time of the day to avoid the criticism of the others; she is alone because she prefers it. She is an outcast among outcasts.

But Christ does not press her on her social circumstances. At the ancient Well, there is no history. There is no lecture, no scolding, no offer of forgiveness. And as we learn more of her, she learns more of Him.

The entire story--indeed her eventual conversion--is one of coming to knowledge, to understanding. And the transcendence of History.

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