Abuse at the well

The more I read about this passage from John, the more I see the subtle presence of domestic abuse in the history and behavior of the woman at the well.  She has been in a series of marriages that did not end well.  In the day, choosing to end a marriage is a male prerogative. It is very likely as each bad marriage ends, and her self-respect further declines, her decisions get poorer and poorer as she desperately seeks security.  Her presence at the well at noon alone (she is not expecting Jesus) is an indication of her rejection by the community, a form of blaming the victim. The abuse continues for centuries the misreading of her behavior to be a prostitute is emblematic of domestic abuse (we continue to blame the victim).

Jesus sees her for who she is, a beloved child of God. He offers her new life, which at first she misunderstands, and he inspires her to share with the community who has rejected her, the promise Jesus offers. They listen to her (a miracle?); they positively respond and go see Jesus. The woman, whose name we never know, is restored to relationship to her community. There is powerful similarity to Jesus restoring the hemorrhaging woman take heart daughter; your faith has made you well. [i] In calling her daughter Jesus restores her to her community.

Part of breaking the cycle of domestic violence is restoring the victim’s self-worth and restoring them to a loving community.  Part of breaking the cycle of sin is restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. [ii]

 


[i] Matthew 9:22

[ii] Book of Common Prayer, 855

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