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Aquinas on Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Third Thursday




The woman therefore left her water-pot, and went her 

way into the city. -John iv. 28.


("Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 91-93, 1937 Imp.)


This woman, once Christ had instructed her, 
became an apostle. There are three things which 
we can gather from what she said and what she 

1. The entirety of her surrender to Our Lord. 
This is shown:

(i) From the fact that she left lying there, almost 
as if forgotten, that for which she had come to the 
well, the water and the water-pot. So great was 
her absorption. Hence it is said, The woman left her 
water-pot and went away into the city, went away to 
announce the wonderful works of Christ. She 
cared no longer for the bodily comforts in view 
of the usefulness of better things, following in this 
the example of the Apostles of whom it is said that, 
Leaving their nets they followed the Lord (Mark i. 18).


The water-pot stands for fashionable desire, by 
means of which men draw up pleasures from those 
depths of darkness signified by the well, that is, 
from practices which are of the earth earthy. 
Those who abandon such desires for the sake of 
God are like the woman who left her water-pot.


(ii) From the multitude of people to whom she 
tells the news, not to one nor to two or three but 
to a whole city. This is why she went away into 
the city.

2. A method of preaching.

She salth to the men there: Come, and see a man who 
has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not 
he the Christ? John iv. 29.

(i) She invites them to look upon Christ: 
Come, and see a man she did not straightway say 
that they should give themselves to Christ, for 
that might have been for them an occasion for 
blasphemy, but, to begin with, she told them 
things about Christ which were believable and 
open to observation. She told them he was a man. 
Nor did she say, Believe, but come and see, for she 
knew that if they, too, tasted of that well, looking 
that is upon Our Lord, they, too, would feel 
all she had felt. And she follows the example of 
a true preacher in that she attracts the men not 
to herself but to Christ.

(ii) She gives them a hint that Christ is God 
when she says, A man who has told me all things 
whatsoever I have done, that is to say, how many 
husbands she had had. She is not ashamed to 
bring up things that make for her own confusion, 
because the soul, once it is lighted up with the divine 
fire, in no way looks to earthly values and standards, 
cares neither for its own glory nor its shame, but 
only for that flame which holds and consumes it.

(iii) She suggests that this proves the majesty 
of Christ, saying, Is not he the Christ? She does 
not dare to assert that he is the Christ, lest she have 
the appearance of wishing to teach others, and 
the others, irritated thereat, refuse to go out to 
Him. Nor, on the other hand, does she leave 
the matter in silence, but she puts it before them 
questioningly, as though she left it to their own 
judgment. For this is the easiest of all ways of 

3. The Fruit of Preaching.


They therefore went out of the city and came unto 
Christ. -John iv. 30.

Hereby it is made clear to us that if we would 
come to Christ, we too must go out of the city, 
which is to say, we must lay aside all love of 
bodily delights.

Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp 
(Heb. xiii. 13).

(In John iv.)

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