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Speaking to the Soul: Wordless Gospel

Speaking to the Soul: Wordless Gospel

Week of 2 Lent, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 56, 57, [58] (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)

Jeremiah 1:11-19

Romans 1:1-15

John 4:27-42

The beginning of today’s gospel reading includes the last moments of Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. We’ve skipped over all the extraordinary content of the conversation, but the brief scene in today’s gospel tells us some remarkable things about Jesus without saying a word.

First, the scene tells us that Jesus speaks to unexpected people; he doesn’t let segregation, suspicion, or potential scandal stop him. When the disciples found Jesus with his conversation partner, “They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman.” Public conversations between religious teachers and women, and any conversation between Jews and Samaritans, would have shocked people in Jesus’s society.

Second, the scene also shows us that something about Jesus’s self-assurance prevents the people around him from raising objections to his choice of conversation partner. As the gospel tells us, the disciples were astonished, and yet something held them back from asking questions or lodging complaints: “no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?'” For some reason, the disciples hesitated to say anything.

What a powerful, wordless moment from the gospels. The mere act of speaking with the Samaritan woman preaches to the astonished disciples, who in turn silence their own protests. What gospel can we hear today that scandalizes us into silence? And how can we preach silently today through our encounters with others, regardless of what words we actually say? Perhaps we share the gospel not by what we say, but by those we choose to speak with and listen to.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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