A loose woman and a single man meet alone at a well in the desert. He starts talking about giving her ‘living water’. This is the sort of place where encounters of a certain type begin.
John’s Gospel is the gospel of the Spirit. Jesus has been speaking to Nicodemus about the Spirit blowing beyond the boundaries. How far beyond? This is the first woman we encounter in John’s Gospel after his mother. Not only is she a woman, but worse, she’s a Samaritan. And although the conversation begins enigmatically, Jesus turns a key and unlocks her to open to the Spirit. John is showing us how Jesus pushes the boundaries, not just beyond Mount Gerazim of the Samaritans, but beyond the Temple of Jerusalem. He has replaced the Temple as the meeting place of God, and the Anointed Agent of the Spirit of God. The living waters of the Holy Spirit in the Sinai desert flow from him who is the rock and the manna, Jesus, the bread of heaven. This is heady stuff.
And the work of the Spirit? To restore us to the likeness of God – to love the world unconditionally, just like him who gave his Son to bring us home.
The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for the Third Sunday of Lent (Year A) is available here.