The Gospel this Sunday (John 4:1-42) was all about a conversation – one that might have seemed very odd to many at the time but it was a conversation nonetheless. I was struck by the conversational intimacy that quickly developed between Jesus and the Samaritan woman – that the apparent distance in culture and gender quickly melted away when things of importance were brought up. The excitement with which she went back to tell the rest of the town was palpable towards the end of the passage, an excitement that came about because of the recognition of the new life that was offered to her and to everyone else.
When we converse, we exchange words and ideas but that’s not all that happens. Something deeper occurs between those in the conversation, a meeting of minds and hearts that often has the effect of bringing a person out of themselves. Without conversations, we can very easily sink into the swamps of our own thoughts, self-doubt and misery, not realising that there may be others who are in the same boat as us and some who can truly help us. Conversation opens up to possibilities beyond ourselves and more importantly, opens us to possibilities of reaching God.
I was shown this video clip several years ago and it still moves me. This very modern take on the woman at the well shows a woman struggling and hurting, speaking about all the things that have gone or are going wrong with her. The person of Jesus is visually absent but undeniably present as one hears the change in the tone and message of the woman as she slowly hears the voice of the Lord amidst her struggles. In the conversation that occurs unspoken, she feels like she is recognised as a person and loved solely because she is a person also. That was when the despair turned into hope.
‘To be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.’ She repeats this so many times and in many ways, this phrase lies at the heart of why we make conversation, why we try to get to know each other. Because it allows us to be known to others and to be loved as a result. It allows us to know others whom we are called to love. The call to love others can be quite empty if we do not know who we are to love at all. During this time of Lent, I feel that we’re all called to reach out, to people whom we sort-of-know, to get to know them better so that we can truly love them as they deserve. To converse is to come to know, to come to know is to come to love. We see that in the Gospels, we can see that in our lives too. All we have to do is make it happen.