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Third Sunday of Lent (Homily)

The Woman at the Well

Homily by P. John Benedict Taiju Yamanaka, S.J
March 19, 2017
St. Ignatius Church, Tokyo

Today’s gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John, ch. 4.

Probably, you have read John’s Gospel several times, hundreds or even thousands of times. Do you like John? If so, how do you like it? Actually, it is often said that John’s Gospel is pretty difficult to understand. Yet it is also said that it is very deep and it is more favorable than the other gospels. For me, however, it sounds interesting, because if something is difficult to recognize, how can it become really favorable? Maybe, just a feeling level!?

To understand John, I suppose two questions may be useful and helpful. In other words, therein, everywhere these two questions could be found and every reader is supposed/invited to answer them. Then, what are the questions? The first is “Who is Jesus?” The second is “Do you believe him?”


  1. Who is Jesus?
    Just remember one of the roles of the Gospel is to reveal who Jesus is. In ch 1, the so-called doxology declares Jesus’ nature. Also John the baptist manifests Jesus and the first disciples of Jesus ask where Jesus stays. In other parts of the Gospel, many characters ask a question to Jesus, using where, from where or who. They try to know who Jesus is.
  2. Do you believe Jesus?
    After the first question, every character of the Gospel is to make a decision whether s/he believes him or not. As it is found in John’s narratives some characters realize who Jesus is and start to follow him; for instance, his disciples and Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. And yet there are still other characters who misunderstand who Jesus is and reject Jesus, unfortunately; for example, Judas of Iscariot and Jewish elders and priests.

    In today’s reading too, these two questions can be found. The Samaritan woman, an important character of the story, is gradually deepening her understanding of Jesus, being guided by Jesus himself; from a Jewish man, a prophet and then the Messiah. Moreover, do you remember why she came to the well? She came to get water. After talking with Jesus, when she returned to the town, she did not carry water. Besides, she left her jar. It means she has got water, living water, within her (so that she does not need the jar anymore). Then, she introduces Jesus as the Messiah to the people in the town. The story shows that the Samaritan woman has understood who Jesus is and indicates that she believes Jesus.

    I believe that through reading the Gospels or through our daily lives, through family, friends or incidents, whatever, each of us has met with Jesus. Then, we are here, as a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Let us, first of all, give thanks to God and Jesus who comes to us, opens our hearts and minds to know him and enables us to follow him. At the same time, let us ask him for grace to deepen this particular experience to meet with him in our daily lives and to deepen the knowledge of him, so that we can love God and Jesus more dearly and follow him more closely, and we can become true disciples/friends/brothers and sisters of Jesus and we can love ourselves and others more properly.
“Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”– JOHN 4:14


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