Give Me a Drink
Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman must be counted as one of the loveliest recorded in the gospels. Despite centuries of animosity between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus reaches out to the woman with a request: “Give me a drink.” From this most basic of all requests springs a conversation that reveals the torment of the woman’s life, Jesus’ revelation of himself as Messiah, and the woman’s subsequent proclamation of this truth in her community.
What make this extraordinary conversation possible? First and foremost the answer must be the extraordinary character of Jesus. He reaches beyond the boundaries of class, race, and religion to show his own vulnerability and need. “Give me a drink.” He gives voice to the woman’s tragic life circumstance without echoing the judgment with which her community doubtless shamed her. Despite their cultural differences he includes her among those who will worship “in spirit and in truth.”
Through the woman’s testimony to her town Jesus is invited to stay a while and teach. From one encounter by a well, a substantial step was taken toward peace between people whose animosities were generations old. Present day disciples can be reconcilers when we extend acceptance and the gift of life to others, especially those we have been taught to despise.
- In what ways was it significant that Jesus first asked the woman for water rather than launching immediately into a discourse about her life? What effect might this have had on the woman?
- Who are the present-day Samaritans for you and your community?
- What barriers must be overcome before reconciliation can take place?
- If you were that woman, how would you get the attention of the people of your community to listen to your testimony about your encounter with the Messiah?
- Find out about groups in your community who are working to bring peace between people who have shared animosity. Share this information yourself, or invite a representative to visit your church.
- Inviter persons who had personal experiences of the civil rights movement in the 1950s-60s to talk at your church about some of the positive instances of reconciliation that occurred between individual persons.
- Learn the song “Make me a channel of your peace” based on a prayer by St. Francis. Write additional stanzas to the song reflecting opportunities for reconciliation open to your own community.