sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2015

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS


The Samaritan woman said to him,
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

John 4:9 (read 4.5-42) - NIV

 

Jesus often went against the cultural norms of his day. A good Jew would never speak with a woman in public, much less a pagan woman or a woman of questionable character. It would also be very humiliating for a man to show any dependence by asking a favor from a woman. But for Jesus, fellow human beings were more important than any social norm. Complying with culture norms can erect barriers and make victims.

For Jesus, there was a big difference between keeping a good reputation and relating to people according to their needs. He risked his reputation in order to be able to reach those in need. The welfare of the Samaritan woman was more important than his reputation.

Many Christians are overly concerned about what others may think about them. They think that to "give good testimony" is to do what others expect of them and act within good social standards. They try to move in accepted social circles and cultivate friendships with the “right” people.

Another striking aspect of Jesus was his humility. He never showed moral superiority. He never demanded moral conduct as being a condition for relationship. To the consternation of many "good" people Jesus associated with sinners and disreputable people. He often hung out with the wrong crowd.

The Samaritan woman was a conjugal failure. She was into her sixth relationship. She was an outcast and avoided other women by fetching water at the well in the heat of the noonday sun when all the other women were at home. She had lovers, but no friends. Who would be her friend? If it were not for Jesus, no one!

Cities are places of solitude. Millions of people live in solitude, homeless, unemployed, in poor health, underfed and inadequately educated. They are condemned to depend on charity and work for insufficient salaries that keep them in misery. The poor are exploited and prevented from escaping from their poverty. They are judged to be lazy and a burden to society. Poverty is criminalized rather than alleviated. The Samaritan woman represents this growing multitude of men, women, children and elderly people in a world of increasing violence and injustice.

The Samaritan woman was lucky. Jesus broke the barriers and reached her before it was too late. He restored the joy of living.

Are we like the disciples, looking on and letting our prejudices stand in the way? Or will we gain the courage to leave our prejudices and reach out to today’s Samaritans? Will we break social barriers and reach out in love?

 

JOHN 4:5-42 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Many Samaritans Believe

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”