Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who is the equivalent today of a Samaritan?

Yesterday’s Sunday Eucharistic reading in the Revised Common Lectionary included the story of the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Who today would be considered like the Samaritans in the time of Jesus?

The Samaritans were certainly faithful and religious. They were also considered by the Jews to be completely wrong and, at least, “gone astray.” Could anything good come out of Samaria? Nothing, according to the Jewish community in which Jesus lived. Yet, in the Gospel reading for yesterday Jesus not only talks with a woman who is Samaritan, a woman with five previous husbands and who is living presently with a man who is not her husband, it is the longest discourse recorded about Jesus in conversation. Does Jesus revile the woman for her sinful ways or for being a Samaritan? No. Not at all. Actually, it is she who is the first to understand that Jesus is the living Messiah. She “gets it” well before Jesus’ disciples “get it.”

Who would be the Samaritans of today? It seems to me that for the majority of the Anglican Communion it would be the Episcopal Church USA. We are accused of falling away from the “true faith,” especially by the larger contingent in the “Southern Cone.” We are the despised ones of the Anglican Communion’s most vocal majority. We are so unworthy that primates of the Southern Cone refuse to break the bread of the Eucharist with our leader and have refused to attend meetings where our Presiding Bishop participates.

The message that I receive from the Gospel lesson about the Samaritan woman at the well who converses with Jesus is that Jesus does not condemn her, but instead continues to talk with her. If Jesus can choose to keep a dialog going with her, then perhaps Jesus will keep a dialog going with us. Perhaps we can evangelize as she did to her community about the identity of the true Messiah.

No comments: