A prayer resource from The World Council of Churches.
“I have no husband” (John 4:17)
- 2 Kings 17:24-34 Samaria conquered by Assyria
- Psalms 139:1-12 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me”
- Romans 7:1-4 “You have died to the law through the body of Christ”
- John 4:16-19 “I have no husband”
CommentaryThe Samaritan woman answers Jesus, “I have no husband.” The topic of conversation is now about the married life of the woman. There is a shift in terms of the content of their dialogue – from water to husband. “Go, call your husband and come back” (Jn 4:16), but Jesus knows the woman has had five husbands, and the man she has now is not her husband.
What is this woman’s situation? Did her husbands ask for divorce? Was she a widow? Did she have children? These questions arise naturally when dealing with this narrative. However, it seems that Jesus was interested in another dimension of the woman’s situation, he acknowledges the woman’s life but remains open to her, to encounter her. Jesus does not insist on a moral interpretation of her answer but seems to want to lead her beyond. And as a result the woman’s attitude towards Jesus changes. At this point, the obstacles of cultural and religious differences fade into the background in order to give space to something much more important: an encounter in trust. Jesus’ behaviour in this moment allows us to open new windows and raise further questions: questions that challenge the attitudes that denigrate and marginalize women; and questions about the differences which we allow to stand in the way of the unity we seek and for which we pray.
Questions1. What are the sinful structures that we can identify in our own communities?
2. What is the place and the role of women in our churches?
3. What can our churches do to prevent violence and to overcome violence directed against women and girls?
O you who are beyond all things,
how could we call you by any other name?
What song could be sung for you?
No word can express you.
What Spirit can perceive you?
No intelligence can comprehend you.
You alone are inexpressible;
all that is said has come from you.
You alone are unknowable;
all that is thought has come from you.
All creatures proclaim you,
those who speak and those who are dumb.
Every one desires you, everyone sighs and aspires after you.
All that exists prays to you,
and every being that can contemplate your universe raises to you a silent hymn.
Have pity on us, you who are beyond all things.
How could we call you by any other name?