Why does the short version of the gospel reading for today's Mass seem to deliberately cut out the uncomfortable part?


The long version was read at my parish. But the short version, which I would guess is probably chosen at most other parishes in the United States, specifically cuts out the part where Jesus tells the woman at the well that she isn’t validly married to her fifth husband.

Here’s the long version with the parts that aren’t included in the short version highlighted in red:

Gospel jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

**Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, **I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”



We had the long version. Hopefully most North American parishes did also. I’ve been a member of several parishes over the years and this has always been the case. :shrug:

Upon reflection, the parts of the longer Gospel seem to me to be comforting rather than uncomfortable.


I can’t help but wonder if it is to give a more comfortable option for the one doing the reading.


We had the long version.


Long version.


The Spanish Mass I went to had the short version. Perhaps because the Deacon reading it doesn’t speak Spanish very well. I’m on my way to the EF now, but today’s reading will be different.


I guess I don’t totally understand. Do you mean because the Priest will be criticized for making people stand too long? (My Priest addressed this right at the beginning of the homily - saying that he thought about allowing people to sit down, but then penance is always a good thing. :D)

Or do you mean that a Priest would be worried about people’s reactions to the actual Gospel?


We had the long version, but the Priest celebrant has a very strong Indian accent. I could understand the homily, and it was great, but my children couldn’t. And, unfortunately, I don’t think my 12 year old son was able to understand just from the reading what was going on in the passage when Jesus spoke of 5 husbands. He (the priest) did say at the end of the reading - ‘That was too long’. LOL!

If I had to guess, I would say that our Pastor probably did not read the entire passage during his Mass - either to be more ‘family-friendly’ or to keep things short (he’s big on that!). It’s probably mostly to give the priest the option for brevity. There is a lot of richness in that passage even without speaking of the husbands.


I would think that is what the OP is referring to. The Sacrament of Marriage is pretty much front and center in the Church at the moment.


We had the long version.


Oh, okay. I think I understand now. But wouldn’t it just be speculation since none of us were at a Mass where the shorter version was used? We couldn’t possibly know a Priest’s motive in such a case.

And, if it were such a case, then the Priest and the parishioners have a very limited understanding of that Gospel passage.


We had the short version, but Father talked about the woman and her husband in his homily (most people in our parish follow along in the missal, so they probably saw the extended text). Our parish typically only uses the short form, though I wish they wouldn’t.


We had a visiting priest today who used the long version. His homily was a short, very abstract talk about “living water.” In fact, his homily wasn’t much longer than the Gospel.


We had the long version, and that surprised me because my parochial vicar and pastor love the short version option. I hate when they use the short version because the Word of God is such a fundamental part of the Liturgy, so why shorten it? Hopefully the next two Sundays we have the longer version read.


We had the short version, with the homily being about the living water being akin to baptism, as it’s the Scrutiny day in RCIA (something like that)


Yes, I imagine since it coincides with the 1st Scrutiny, some Pastors elected to use the short version.
Both are permitted. That’s why it’s an “option”.
I don’t think there’s any grand conspiracy to avoid teaching.
It’s up to the priest.
As I said before, we had the long version, including the Scrutiny. Was a very long Mass, but very beautiful.


Father read the short version, but the homily was extensive, covering all three readings as usual and tying them all together. He always gives an excellent homily and generally speaks for quite a while, but with such enthusiasm and knowledge and insight it is a true blessing. :smiley:


But then why is this feature conspicuous throughout many of the Gospel passages, the cutting out of the difficult parts? It’s not just one or two coincidental things.


We had the short version, but the priest mentioned the woman’s marriage in his homily. We had a Scrutinies of sorts, with the religious education kids preparing for their first Communion.


Long version, here, too.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.