Monday, March 24, 2014

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Pope Francis explained his approach with his Angelus reflection on today's encounter between Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well.

I've always loved this encounter and the genius of Christ.

He approaches, as Pope Francis explains, with great delicacy. She is at ease, intrigued with His boldness. He reveals His Divinity, draws the confession out of her with a clever question, reveals His knowledge of the half dozen pairs shoes that have been parked under her bed and offers her the living water. She is converted.

This approach is definitely Pope Francis' game plan. He's still, what he describes as 'entering the interior world of a person' filled with love.

He mentions a very interesting but subtle theological praxis that could be the basis of some misunderstanding:

And Francis explained that Jesus does not judge, but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily ‘routine’. He explained that the thirst Jesus speaks of is not so much a thirst for water, but the wish to quench the thirst of an arid soul.

Let's break this down.

"And Francis explained that Jesus does not judge.."

Actually Christ DID make a judgement about the woman's actions and He came to the conclusion her actions were immoral. That's why He approaches her.

He simply does not verbally express his judgment. He simply revealed that He knew.

"...but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily ‘routine’. He explained that the thirst Jesus speaks of is not so much a thirst for water, but the wish to quench the thirst of an arid soul..."

He then said each one of us needs repentance, Lent is the time, encouraged Confession and announced a world-wide invitation to approach the Sacrament on Friday and Saturday.

I thought the reference that Christ does not judge was very interesting.

Most likely his impetus for the 'who am I to judge' disaster?

I can't say for sure that it is a communication issue, but find it hard to believe he thinks Christ approached the Samaritan woman without making a judgment on her immoral actions?

If Christ doesn't judge, why would he invite us to the Sacrament of Confession?


Anonymous said...

A detail worth thinking about: There's no indication that the woman is at ease at all.

The fact that she's drawing water at noon indicates she is avoiding other people - in the Near East, the time for drawing well water is when the sun is relatively low in the sky. Travelers (Jesus) would stop, and outcasts (the woman) would use that time to avoid social opprobrium.

If anything, the woman is startled and caught off guard. And then in more ways than one.

TTC said...

I never thought of it that way. Just because she wasn't defensive doesn't mean she answered the questions with ease!

Interesting cultural history --- thanks

StevenD-Jasper said...

I don't know why Pope Francis is saying the mafia is going to hell, why is he being so judgmental, who is he to judge...


breathnach said...

The Samaritan woman's aridity of soul is a product of despair and the futility of trying to quench it by means of disordered sexuality. Jesus does not judge her but he communicates (by his very being)that the path she is on leads to emptiness. Sin is despair. The "who am I to judge" crowd would have Jesus affirm her lifestyle choices and perhaps leave her some pamphlets on "reproductive health", the address of a battered woman's shelter, in case one of her partner's became abusive and the name of the local organizer for the Samaritan Water Drawer's Union.

Martina Katholik said...

1. The magisterium has already explained every part of the Gospel. For one year I watch this Pope explain the Gospel in a very new way that doesn´t resemble the explanations of the Church Fathers at all. So, we have a problem here because nowadays most Catholics think like the Protestants that everybody can explain the Gospel in his style and therefore they don´t realize what the Pope is doing.
2. The Pope obviously wants to create a "non-judgemental Church". It seems to me that he doesn´t like two works of spiritual mercy: to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant.
But in order to admonish the sinner I first have to judge if his behaviour is a sin. If I want to instruct an ignorant I first have to judge if his words and deeds show me that he could need instruction.
If I look the other way if I see my neighbor sin (for example abort her baby or commit another sin that cries to heaven for vengeance) I cannot say "who am I to judge" because then I the would sit at the side doing nothing and watching my neighbor go to hell.

In my opinion the Pope is telling us that we should look the other way if we see our neighbor sin as he himself gave us an example with his attitude against the LGTB-“community” and the abortion industry. (see below) That indeed is the “peace in the world” the devil (and the UN which the pope supports) is working on.

And here is what the Pope said last week:
"The merciful man and the woman have a wide, wide open heart: They always forgive others and think about their own sins.’ But you saw what he did?'.’ But I've had enough with what I have done and I will not interfere!’ This is the path of mercy which we have to seek. But if all of us, if all peoples, individuals, families, communities, if we all we had this attitude, what peace there would be in the world, how much peace in our hearts! For mercy leads us to peace. Always remember: 'Who am I to judge? '. Be ashamed and open wide your heart. May the Lord give us this grace,” the Pope said, concluding this morning’s homily.

TTC said...

Ugh on the latest.

You both bring up excellent points.

I intend to steal them for a post in the next few days!

Anonymous said...

What I find so interesting is how the "Churches" left out the part on 5 husbands....

Anonymous said...

I was told there was tension or distance that had to be overcome between Jesus and the woman because one was a Jew and the other a Samaritan. Jesus overcame those superficial differences and now it seems He also was trying to reach out to someone trying to be alone at high noon at the hot well. It is great that the priests are waiting for us on Wednesdays for confession - the whole story and the priests today waiting for us is just beautiful!
I believe in Mercy but I hope the Pope does forget to warn us of real evil and reminds us to be good. I often (almost always) fail to reproach sinners for the sake of thier souls - so who am I to judge - but it is an act of Mercy as others here have pointed out. It is difficult and only be done as a last resort. I wish the Pope would talk more about these things like when to reproach a sinner and how to do it for the sake of souls.
Thank God for the Tenth Crusade which is not under Illuminati control like everything else. The only "Superforce" here is Carol's courage! HAPPY ANNOUNCIATION DAY!

TTC said...

Thanks for these excellent observations.

(thanks too for your kind support and words - Deo Gratis)

Paul C. said...

There are two ways that the word 'judge' can be taken, and I can't help feeling that Pope Francis is using the word in a particular way that you are not taking it.

In one way, 'judge' can simply mean something like "deciding on something". Thus, in a moral setting that would be "deciding whether something is good or bad". There's no particular problem with us doing that, and we indeed are supposed to be doing it regularly.

But 'judge' can also be very strongly linked to the idea of 'sentence'. I.e. having made a judgement, an appropriate sentence is then passed. That's the kind of judgement that we must resist.

In the passage about the Samaritan woman, though Jesus points out what she has done wrong ('judging' in the first sense) Jesus passes no sentence at all -- so he is not doing any judgment at all in this second sense. In fact, it is the Samaritan woman who is doing all the judging of this second kind! (In effect, she says: "I'm a woman, so you should not be talking to me. I'm a Samaritan, so you should not be talking to me. I'm a Samaritan, so I should not be worshiping in Jerusalem." These are all moral decisions to which a sentence has been attached.)

Jesus carefully bats aside all these judgments with their sentences, and applies none of his own. We are called to act to others in the same way. This is what Pope Francis points out.

breathnach said...

The Samaritan woman does not "judge". She points out cultural conventions which were a barrier between Jews and Samaritans. She is amazed that Jesus is not subject to the conventions of men.

Jesus makes a very profound judgment, Our Lord proclaims: "the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him. [24] God is a spirit; and they that adore him, MUST adore him in spirit and in truth."

The Samaritan woman is not judged because she assents to the Truth:

"The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ). Therefore, when he is come, he will tell us all things.

[26] Jesus saith to her: I am he, who am speaking with thee."

The Samaritan woman has experienced a profound "turning around"--CONVERSION. She has rejected sin. This action by her precludes judgment.

If Jesus had engaged the Samaritan woman with the banality of "Who am I to judge?" The profundity of conversion would not have been reached. It is more likely that the Samaritan woman would have bemoaned her fate as a lowly victim as a Samaritan woman and never reached a realization of the TRUTH.

TTC said...

Breathnach - you knocked this out of the park. Thank you.

Paul C, you also nailed the distinction between judge and condemn, which is a point I want to make in my blog post that is cooking.

Christ did give a dramatic warning about permanent condemnation of those who reject truth and numerous times condemned those he encountered.

He condemned an entire race of people. He told others they were son of the devil, dog, swine.

The basis of criticism of the Pope is his witness that salvation does not rely upon making judgments about truth and a Christ who does not condemn.

Everyone can relate to putting the face of love front and center but the language he uses is painting a picture that Jesus does not judge immorality and sin or condemn a soul who rejected truth and lived his or her life putting their rolls in the hay above it.

We know this is a lie. It is false. We know we can't accept it or live by it.