[When the Samaritan woman had left him] his disciples urged [Jesus], “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
When reflecting on the parable of the Samaritan woman, we often neglect this exchange that Jesus has with his disciples. It is just as profound as his earlier conversation. While he talks about water with the Samaritan woman, Jesus talks about food with his apostles. Food and water are metaphors used to represent spiritual nourishment and fulfillment from a deep and personal relationship with God.
In Isaiah 55, the prophet invites the thirsty and hungry to come and find satisfaction without cost. He speaks of food and water that go beyond the physical, representing the spiritual sustenance and abundant grace freely offered by God. The invitation is to seek God and his ways, bringing true fulfillment and joy.
We can make the same mistake, focusing on satisfying our physical needs rather than partaking in the spiritual nourishment that comes from doing God's will. When tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus said, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus' words to his apostles also contained a subtle rebuke. They had gone into town to purchase food and had plenty of opportunity to tell the townspeople about Jesus, inviting them to come and listen to him. However, they were only concerned about filling their stomachs. They were the people whom Jesus had chosen to collaborate with on his mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and they didn't. The Samaritan woman, on the other hand, who was a woman living an immoral life, did what they didn't. She witnessed to people about Jesus! What does this tell you?
Then, Jesus shifts from the imagery of food to that of the harvest. Again, he is speaking metaphorically, referring to the souls of people, ripe and ready to receive the message of salvation. As followers of Christ, we are called to be workers in the spiritual harvest, sharing the Good News with love and compassion with those around us.
Let us not hesitate to do so because great will be our reward in heaven, even if we will face persecution here.
God bless you.