2/17/2005

Jesus Hustles an Invitation to the City

This was posted 2/17 on the pages of THE WITNESS....

A Commentary on the Gospel for the Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

"He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar. . ." Jesus came to a city. It calls up images of something rather imposing -- Jerusalem, the city set on a hill, or Babylon, or Damascus. The city of Sychar was in all likelihood a village, similar to several others, near Jacob's Well. We would think of it as a walled village. Walled enclaves are not particularly welcoming.

To ask a simple thing of the enemy is to become vulnerable. It is to change the dynamic between the conflicting parties and for a moment it opens out the possibility of a larger exchange.

The site of this Samaritan village is now probably absorbed into the spread on the edge of the modern Palestinian city of Nablus, a community of some 160,000 persons.

We are all familiar with "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" signs. The Gospel suggests there were no "The Samaritan Temple Welcomes You" signs out, at least for the Jews. The editorial comment made that clear, "Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans" (John 4:9). Jews and Samaritans were unreconciled.

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