When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:7-10 NIV
Social distancing has been practiced for various reasons in all cultures at all times. This familiar story from John’s gospel reveals not only the space that was expected to be kept between Jews and Samaritans, but also men and women and even hints that the woman was isolated from her own village because of her sinful life.
Jesus first closes the distance and then offers her living water that leads to wholeness and a new life. She breaches the social distance imposed on her in her village and before long “many Samaritans from the city believed in him” and “they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.”
I realize we are practicing social distancing for very good reasons during this virus, but maybe it can help us reflect on people we “keep our distance from” for other reasons during normal times. Are those the people, like us, who really thirst for living water? When this is all over, when we have had a small taste of how isolation feels, will our eyes be opened to the lonely or marginalized and will we narrow the distance between us?