In the heat of the day, a woman of one ethnicity meets a man from another ethnicity at the well. She gets the water then because she is an outcast socially from her people. This stranger just called her out on her current life of emptiness but she chooses to stick around anyway. She is challenged but intrigued.
This woman just got served by Jesus. Unfortunately for her she was served in the sense of her sinful past being laid to bare. But to her credit, she rolls with it pretty well all considered. He challenged her on the issues of living with a man unmarried and having 5 husbands so he could propose to her for something better.
The woman said to him, “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.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he,the one who is speaking with you.” At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:19-29).
Sir, I can see that you are a prophet— A turning point in anyone’s conversion is recognizing Jesus has at least some valid authority. As a Samaritan she had an imperfect formation by Jewish standards in what to hope for but she does see something big is going since a prophet discerns truth. Her perspective is broadening.
…this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem— This woman is centering on spiritual mysteries that seem to have no discernible purpose and doing that based on her own cultural lens. Jesus responds with a coming agenda, a kingdom, that would not be bound to her culture or his and has a broader purpose. Jesus acknowledges the foundation on how salvation history through the Jews but points to importance of blessing the world.
I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed— She points in hope how somehow someone will be anointed by God. It is implied the Holy Spirit will do the anointing. In further developed articulation of Christianity one can see an abundant life full of the Holy Spirit. Such a life is informed by the work of Christ on the cross drawing one to a fully formed life the Holy Trinity. Below are dynamics of the persons of the Holy Trinity that we can understand in fully articulated Christianity that is, again, of spirit and truth.
The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church’s faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him (Catechism of the Catholic Church para. 689).
The work of the Holy Spirit is partly to point to Jesus as the visible member of the Godhead. Working as “Breath” (the word for spirit and wind is the same in Hebrew), there is a relational context that the believer is invited to of unity (John 17:21). This intent of breathing the Breath of God has to have consequence on earth in a new agenda. This is the gospel lived out. This woman in her simplicity points to a foundation for this hope.
will worship the Father in Spirit and truth- Jesus is contrasting her presumption that the new faith would have to be anchored by a singular geographical location. For Jesus to say this had foundation from prior scripture. “From the rising of the sun to its setting, my name is great among the nations;Incense offerings are made to my name everywhere, and a pure offering; For my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11). How is this supposed to work if God’s people are bound to only offer sacrifice in the temple? In the rabbinical narratives between the Old and New Testament they wrote with the Messiah to come the sacrifice to remain would be of bread for thanksgiving; it was called todah in Hebrew, translated eucharistia in Greek in a translation of the Old Testament and is Eucharist in English.
the Father seeks such people to worship him- Those people are sensitized to the joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The spirit spoken of is a reminder of the Holy Spirit being the Breath behind all spiritual wind which reveals the son for which there is no discrimination.
God is Spirit- Exactly articulated later with these words in the Nicene Creed of 325 “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son and with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.
those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth – For those who know the call after conversion to be true worshippers they are introduced into partaking of this divine nature, sensitized to true worship and will worship the Father in Christ. The rituals that are absent the spirit only point to a greater reality but are not in themselves that greater reality. But Christ is and he is to be experienced in matter and faith.
I who speak to you am he— This is the dividing line. She can go backward from Jesus but not in ignorance. Or she could go forward and continue to be changed in perceptions and lifestyle with a full conversion. She has been proposed to and not imposed upon. So we can be in the moments of turning around and giving our own testimony to the world about this mysterious Other.
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?”— Good evangelism sometimes is knowing the right answer to the right question. She had her answer: Jesus is Savior and she needed saving. Each day one chooses to walk in friendship with Jesus is an opportunity to be whole. Not all dynamics of conversion are meant to be figured out. But if we open our eyes Jesus will meet us in the common wells of our lives. The subsequent transformation compels us to a proclamation of the comprehensible and the mysteries in Christ.
The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love (Catechism of the Catholic Church para. 850).