It is not easy for us, today, to appreciate the bitterness of the estrangement between Jews and Samaritans – though the shocking conflicts which still occur in Israel today may help us to understand the violent attitudes that divided these two groups.
Of the Synoptic Gospels, Luke alone – the Gentile convert – shows any sympathy for the Samaritans. A missionary outreach to these people must have seemed almost unthinkable to early Christians, most of who were from a Jewish background. However the attitude of Jesus, and the great fruit that appeared from the interactions Jesus had with the Samaritan people, encouraged the early Christian Church to be courageous in her mission to all peoples.
You may have noticed, at the end of our long Gospel this weekend that the woman who discovered Jesus, runs off to tell the others in her village that she has found the Messiah.
There is a lesson for us as we, the Parish of St Peter Chanel, seek also to be more missionary in our endeavours. Yes, even when differences appear insurmountable, we ought to persevere, knowing that the grace of Christ can conquer all things.