Reflection by the English as a New Language Team: Jennifer Dees, Clare Roach, and Katy Lichon
First-graders who have observed a caterpillar transforming into a chrysalis could teach us adults a lesson that we often forget. Transformation is rarely instantaneous. Much like Jesus in this Sunday's reading, first graders exhibit patience, and above all, hope, as they wait for a butterfly to emerge.
Conversion is defined as a change, transformation, metamorphosis, transfiguration. In this Sunday's readings, we hear about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is a story about, among other things, emergence. The woman at the well encounters Jesus and engages him in a dialogue ripe with questions and retorts: "How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?"; "Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water?”; and "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem." The woman at the well did not purport to have all the answers, and in fact, had more than a couple penetrating questions. Her realization that Jesus is the Messiah emerges slowly and only after dialogue and encounter.
This story nudges us to ask how often we allow ourselves to dialogue with and encounter Christ and others. We can learn from this woman at the well who, as an outsider, didn't hesitate to ask questions. She wasn't dulled by the experiences of being a Jewish insider, nor intimidated by being seen potentially as an outsider. She didn't take refuge in having all the right practices or doctrinal answers. As disciples, can we be as deliberate, open-minded, and open-hearted about our encounters as this Samaritan woman and Jesus model? For it is through these moments that true change, conversion, takes place.
Christ stops, sits still, and really encounters her. Like the woman at the well, Jesus knows our doubts, our misdeeds, and our failures. But He doesn't want us to turn and hide; He wants us to engage Him with our hearts open. There is much to be learned here about encounter, presence, and emergence. Like first-graders waiting for their butterflies to emerge, Jesus is patient and hopeful with each of us, inviting us deeper into the great Lenten journey of conversion.