Lectio notes on John 4: 27-42



John 4: 27-42 continues the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritans.  In this section of the Gospel, the disciples, who have been off in the town buying food arrive back, and are bemused (to say the least) to find Jesus talking to a non-Jewish woman.  Nonetheless, as in so many other Gospel scenes (most vividly described in St Mark), they are unwilling to question him, but instead simply offer him food.  But instead of accepting, he reinforces the lesson of his previous preaching by talking about the spiritual food and drink that sustains him instead.

Lectio

You can find the Greek, Latin and English translations of John 4: 27-42 over at New Advent here.  For the audio you can find the Latin (from 3.05) over at the excellent Greek Latin audio site, and similarly the Greek here (3.22).  Alternatively, listen to the video I included in the previous post in this series.

Here is the Latin:

27 Et continuo venerunt discipuli ejus, et mirabantur quia cum muliere loquebatur. Nemo tamen dixit: Quid quæris? aut, Quid loqueris cum ea? 28 Reliquit ergo hydriam suam mulier, et abiit in civitatem, et dicit illis hominibus: 29 Venite, et videte hominem qui dixit mihi omnia quæcumque feci: numquid ipse est Christus? 30 Exierunt ergo de civitate et veniebant ad eum. 31 Interea rogabant eum discipuli, dicentes: Rabbi, manduca. 32 Ille autem dicit eis: Ego cibum habeo manducare, quem vos nescitis. 33 Dicebant ergo discipuli ad invicem: Numquid aliquis attulit ei manducare? 34 Dicit eis Jesus: Meus cibus est ut faciam voluntatem ejus qui misit me, ut perficiam opus ejus. 35 Nonne vos dicitis quod adhuc quatuor menses sunt, et messis venit? Ecce dico vobis: levate oculos vestros, et videte regiones, quia albæ sunt jam ad messem. 36 Et qui metit, mercedem accipit, et congregat fructum in vitam æternam: ut et qui seminat, simul gaudeat, et qui metit. 37 In hoc enim est verbum verum: quia alius est qui seminat, et alius est qui metit. 38 Ego misi vos metere quod vos non laborastis: alii laboraverunt, et vos in labores eorum introistis. 39 Ex civitate autem illa multi crediderunt in eum Samaritanorum, propter verbum mulieris testimonium perhibentis: Quia dixit mihi omnia quæcumque feci. 40 Cum venissent ergo ad illum Samaritani, rogaverunt eum ut ibi maneret. Et mansit ibi duos dies. 41 Et multo plures crediderunt in eum propter sermonem ejus. 42 Et mulieri dicebant: Quia jam non propter tuam loquelam credimus: ipsi enim audivimus, et scimus quia hic est vere Salvator mundi.

And the English:

[27] And immediately his disciples came; and they wondered that he talked with the woman. Yet no man said: What seekest thou? or, why talkest thou with her? [28] The woman therefore left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men there: [29] Come, and see a man who has told me all things whatsoever I have done. Is not he the Christ? [30] They went therefore out of the city, and came unto him.[31] In the mean time the disciples prayed him, saying: Rabbi, eat. [32] But he said to them: I have meat to eat, which you know not. [33] The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought him to eat? [34] Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work. [35] Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then the harvest cometh? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries; for they are white already to harvest.[36] And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting: that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth, may rejoice together. [37] For in this is the saying true: That it is one man that soweth, and it is another that reapeth. [38] I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labour: others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours. [39] Now of that city many of the Samaritans believed in him, for the word of the woman giving testimony: He told me all things whatsoever I have done. [40] So when the Samaritans were come to him, they desired that he would tarry there. And he abode there two days.[41] And many more believed in him because of his own word. [42] And they said to the woman: We now believe, not for thy saying: for we ourselves have heard him, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.

Study/Meditation

These days Jesus is often portrayed as 'gentle, meek and mild'.  In the proper sense of those words, sense he was, but what perhaps need to be recovered in that image is the sense of his divinity that was evidently always apparent both to the disciples and those he met, as the Catena Aurea makes clear:

"CHRYS. The disciples arrive opportunely, and when the teaching is finished: And upon this came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with the woman. They marveled at the exceeding kindness and humility of Christ, in condescending to converse with a poor woman, and a Samaritan.

AUG. He who came to seek that which was lost, sought the lost one. This was what they marveled at: they marveled at His goodness; they did not suspect evil. 

CHRYS. But notwithstanding their wonder, they asked Him no questions, No man said, What seek You? or, Why talk you with her? So careful were they to observe the rank of disciples, so great was their awe and veneration for Him. On subjects indeed which concerned themselves, they did not hesitate to ask Him questions. But this was not one. 

ORIGEN. The woman is almost turned into an Apostle. So forcible are His words, that she leaves her waterpot to go to the city, and tell her townsmen of them. The woman then left her waterpot, i.e. gave up low bodily cares, for the sake of benefiting others. Let us do the same. Let us leave off caring for things of the body, and impart to others of our own."

On the spiritual meat here, Origen says:

"The matter of spiritual drink and living water being explained, the subject of meat follows. Jesus had asked the woman of Samaria, and she could give Him none good enough. Then came the disciples, having procured some humble food among the people of the country, and offered it Him, beseeching Him to eat. They fear perhaps lest the Word of God, deprived of His own proper nourishment, fail within them; and therefore with such as they have found, immediately propose to feed Him, that being confirmed and strengthened, He may abide with His nourishers. Souls require food as well as bodies. And as bodies require different kinds of it, and in different quantities, so is it in things which are above the body. Souls differ in capacity, and one needs more nourishment, another less. So too in point of quality, the same nourishment of words and thoughts does not suit all. Infants just born need the milk of the word; the grown up, solid meat. Our Lord says, I have meat to eat. For one who is over the weak who cannot behold the same things with the stronger, may always speak thus."

The final section of the text deals with the labour of spreading the Gospel:

"THEOPHYL. Now you are expecting a material harvest. But I say to you, that a spiritual harvest is at hand: lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. He alludes to the Samaritans who are approaching. 

CHRYS. He leads them, as his custom is, from low things to high. Fields and harvest here express the great number of souls, which are ready to receive the word. The eyes are both spiritual, and bodily ones, for they saw a great multitude of Samaritans now approaching. This expectant crowd he calls very suitably white fields. For as the corn, when it grows white, is reader for the harvest; so were these ready for salvation. But why does He not say this in direct language? Because by making use in this way of the objects around them, he gave greater vividness and power to His words, and brought the truth home to them; and also that His discourse might be more pleasant, and might sink deeper into their memories.

AUG. He was intent now on beginning the work, and hastened to send laborers: And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. 

CHRYS. Again He distinguishes earthly from heavenly things, for as above He said of the water, that he who drank of it should never thirst, so here He says, He that reaps gathers fruit to life eternal; adding, that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together. The Prophets sowed, the Apostles reaped, yet are not the former deprived of their reward. For here a new thing is promised; viz. that both sowers and reapers shall rejoice together. How different this from what we see here. Now he that sows grieves because he sows for others, and he only that reaps rejoices. But in the Dew state, the sower and reaper share the same wages.

AUG. The Apostles and Prophets had different labors, corresponding to the difference of times; but both will attain to like joy, and receive together their wages, even eternal life. 

CHRYS. He confirms what He says by a proverb, And herein is that saying true, one sows and another reaps, i.e. one party has the labor, and another reaps the fruit. The saying is especially applicable here, for the Prophets had labored, and the disciples reaped the fruits of their labors: I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor.

AUG. So then He sent reapers, no sowers. The reapers went where the Prophets had preached. Read the account of their labors: they all contain prophecy of Christ. And the harvest was gathered on that occasion when so many thousands brought the prices of their possessions, and laid them at the Apostles' feet; relieving their shoulders from earthly burdens, that they might follow Christ. Yes verily, and from that harvest were a few grains scattered, which filled the whole world. And now arises another harvest, which will be reaped at the end of the world, not by Apostles, but by Angels. The reapers, He says, are the Angels. 

CHRYS. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labor, i.e. I have reserved you for a favorable time, in which the labor is less, the enjoyment greater. The more laborious part of the work was laid on the Prophets, viz. the sowing of the seed: Other men labored, and you are entered into their labors. Christ here throws light on the meaning of the old prophecies. He shows that both the Law and the Prophets, if rightly interpreted, led men to Him; and that the Prophets w ere sent in fact by Himself. Thus the intimate connection is established between the Old Testament and the New..." 


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