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Although this year we concentrate on the gospel according to Matthew, in Lent we reflect on some important passages from the gospel according to John. Today we take a look at John 4, the moment when Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman.

The Samaritan woman really represents people who want to welcome God in their lives but who have deep reservations that keep them from opening wide their hearts. They want to love God but they want to clear up the shadows that block their clear view of God before them. Unready because hesitant. Hesitant because hurt. Hurt because they need healing.

The woman’s first objection is the inequality between Jew and Samaritan: Why do you a Jew speak to me, a Samaritan and a woman? Jews did really look down on Samaritans as somewhat a mixed and impure race. Jesus patiently explained that he only needed water, and in fact, he can give her “living water.” This excites the woman because she was tired fetching water everyday.

The woman’s second objection was her past. Jesus knew she had five husbands and the one she lives in now is not her real one too. Will Jesus turn her away after knowing her imperfect life? But Jesus did not tell her to change before she can receive his living water. Jesus will help her to change when the time is right for her.

The woman’s third objection is the dispute on where to worship; Jews say in the Temple and Samaritans say on Mt. Gerizim. Jesus was again patient, not entering into debate but explaining that in the end, the real worship is done in spirit.

The woman’s fourth line of defense was to use the Messiah. She knows he will come to reveal everything. And Jesus assures her with love, “I am He.” So many defenses and objections! But with all her objections and resistances demolished, the woman returns home and proclaims Jesus to her neighbors.

What about you? Are you aware of the walls of defense you put between you and God? What keeps you from surrendering everything to him? Do you think you are unloveable? Do you think he cannot forgive your past? Do you think you have broken every law? Do you think that Jesus will not understand?

This Sunday, Jesus shows us the persistence of his love. Our past is not important to him. Our sins are not his concern. Our weaknesses cannot make him turn his back on any one of us. He just loves us! Simple but true! Let us welcome the Lord again. Let us face him with love in confession, in prayer, in sacrifice this Lenten season. His love is waiting to be invited.