Bloch, Carl Heinrich, Woman at the Well [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
To be seen. Just those words alone have a mix of connotations for me. It is the ultimate desire of my heart, but also something I run from.
A few days ago, I was doing Visio Divina (praying with art) with this image with a group of young adults. What struck all of us was that Jesus noticed this woman. His look is impenetrable. Jesus went beyond the social constructs of the time and spoke to her.
In this moment, a woman who identified herself by her relationships is shown as her true self. Seemingly just a stranger at first, Jesus ends up being more than who this woman originally thought. Why? Because he tells this woman her sins. He sees beyond the façade. Jesus reveals the true self of this woman at the well.
It can be easy to put up masks in our life. Our desire for love and belonging, while very good, can lead us to do things or change ourselves to gain love from others. These masks are ways that we stop the God of our hearts from truly loving us…When we do this, we are putting up a wall to true love and asking for God to love someone who does not really exist.
But this mask that we put on does not stop Jesus. He is the Lord. Like the woman at the well, He can reveal who we really are by revealing Himself. As the Council Fathers of Vatican II wrote, “The truth is that only in the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).
Yes, our sins being revealed may be painful. It might ask challenging things of us. But it ultimately is the way of freedom.
Sister, what is that mask in your life? Can you place yourself as the woman at the well in this painting? What does Jesus say to you? Who does He say you are?
Be free and go with courage. Let Him see you and reveal your true self. Scripture tells us, “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman” (Jn 4:39). By giving Christ permission to show us our true selves, we can be such witnesses.