Last Sunday, I (actually!) had a discussion with someone about the Gospel reading during the Coffee Hour. Thus, we were speaking about the Samaritan Woman. This was with one of our younger female parishioners, and she let me know that she has always been deeply attracted to this dialogue between Jesus and the woman of Samaria. She made the initial point that in this dialogue we learn about how Jesus related to "women and minorities," which is important aspect of their encounter.
Jesus had no prejudices towards either "women or minorities!" He spoke openly with both women and the marginalized. However, what I found to be particularly insightful in our conversation was the further comment that in this dialogue we learn how Jesus will approach another person and "witness" to that person about the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman first about "living water" and "eternal life" and did not concentrate of sin and judgment. An excellent reminder to those who will "witness" to others precisely by first stressing sin and judgment, which is appealing to fear not love. Jesus could have judged the woman severely because of her many husbands. But although He forced her to recognize her "irregular" marital status, He did not condemn her or threaten her with judgment or condemnation. This was a good and important insight, and another excellent way to approach the dialogue between Christ and the Samaritan woman.
Jesus offers a "gift" - in this case the gift of "living water." Judgment is self-imposed on those who obstinately refuse this gift or any other manifestation of the goodness that clearly comes from Christ in His teaching and His very Person. When a person accepts that gift, he/she will eventually recognize his/her own sinfulness and understand that we are judged for our decisions and way of life. The gift is offered through love and appeals to a response of love - not fear of judgment.
Anyway, an excellent insight from one of our parishioners who is clearly "engaged" with this dialogue!