Scripture:Jesus said to his disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:34-38)
Reflection: Jesus comes to Jacob’s well, which is not only a place to drop a bucket, but a sacred spot of encounter between God and people. The writer mentions that it is noon, when everyone was eating lunch and taking a nap except for the Samaritan woman. In order not to be criticized by the other women who came to the well to get water early in the morning, she waits until the heat of the day. Jesus ignores the taboos dictating that he, a Jew, may not speak to a Samaritan, a person of mixed blood, and that he, as a man, should not speak to a woman. He enters into a dialogue that carefully leads her to faith. She leaves her water jar, a sign, at the well – because she has drunk deeply of a different kind of water, eternal life – and goes into her village to tell others about the Messiah who has found her. Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
Jesus’s disciples had gone off to buy food. When they try to get him to eat some of the provisions they have procured, he tells them he has eaten of the Samaritan woman’s faith. Then, he points to the crowd (the harvest, that is) moving toward them. Now the disciples must reap the fruit that they did not plant.
Those of us on a spirituality of mission may never know those who did the initial evangelizing, but we know that our food is to do the will of God by completing his work. A chance encounter at the airport between two people may have planted the seed in one person. It is only later that others reap the benefits. Pastors regularly reap a harvest that they did not plant. One college student impresses his or her roommate by getting up early on Sunday morning and going to worship with others. After some discussion, the devoted student brings the new believer to the leaders of the church who reap what they did not sow. In a spirituality of mission there is room to see that the fields are ripe for harvesting what others have sown, even while being aware that others may reap what the reader has sown.
Journal/Meditation: What have you reaped that others have sown? What have others reaped that you have sown?
Prayer: Father, my food is to do your will by completing your work of evangelization. Make me a good sower in the fields of your world so that they may become ripe for harvesting. Make me a good harvester in the fields of your world that others have planted. Then, sower and reaper may rejoice together in gathering fruit for eternal life. I ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.