Fifth Sunday of Pascha – 2019

My dear friends in our Lord: Christ is risen!

Today, the well-spring of the Gospel fountain itself flows forth for us; as we read of the Samaritan woman and of the good news of the living waters of eternal life which our Lord preaches. These waters are abundant, and the fountain never fails. The more the waters of life are drawn, the more its streams overflow. Though the waters are poured out, the blessed fount of regeneration remains inexhaustible and unfailing.

So let those of us who thirst draw from them, and be be glad. For whosoever drinks of these divine waters of spiritual instruction shall never thirst, just as the Truth Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, has said.

Today we read that our Lord, in His earthly journey comes to a city of Samaria, called Sichar, in which was found Jacob’s well. And coming thereto, our Lord sits at the well, and encounters the Samaritan woman, whom sacred tradition tells us would receive the baptismal name “Photini,” meaning “the luminous one,” or the “enlightened one.”

Saint John tells us that the Lord was wearied from journeying on foot, the Evangelist tells us, showing our Lord’s lack of pride. He did not wish to have great chariots and a retinue for His travels; He went about on foot, thus teaching us that not much is required to do God’s work carefully and earnestly.

Our Lord, coming to Sichar, did not sit on a throne; rather, he rested His Body upon the earth and refreshed It at a well. Now it was about the sixth hour, a time when everyone takes their rest after eating. The disciples had been sent to buy food, and so the hour for the rest and refreshment which the Lord required was extended, and our Lord asked Saint Photini for a drink of water.

From His appearance, His dress, His general bodily build, and also from His speech, the Samaritan woman knew our Lord to be of the Jewish people. Therefore, she said to Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest water to drink of me, a woman of Samaria? Note that she did not say that Samaritans do not mingle with Jews, but rather that Jews would not approach Samaritans. From this it appears that the woman was intelligent and well-mannered, and that she had some knowledge of the Law. Therefore, our Lord also begins to speak to her of things lofty and divine; He manifests and reveals Himself. If thou knewest the gift of God, He said; in other words, lf thou knewest what manner of gifts God bestows, and in what measure, for He gives what is eternal and incorruptible; if thou knewest Me also, for I am God, and can give thee these things; if thou wouldest ask, O woman, thou wouldest receive living water.

Living water. Christ calls the water of His teaching living water. He calls it water, because, like water, it cleanses the filth of sin, and extinguishes the flame of the passions, and heals the arid barrenness of unbelief. It is living water, because it is ever-existing and ever-flowing; for the life of water lies in being poured out and in flowing. It is called water, because like the waters of the rain it descends from heaven, gives life and nourishes.

Our Lord spoke in such a way concerning his teaching, but the Samaritan woman initially understood otherwise, thinking – perhaps quite understandably – in material terms. Therefore pointing out that the well at which they were speaking was given by none less than the Patriarch Jacob, and had continued to provide water even up until that time, and in fact, still provides water to this very day, The Samaritan woman asks the Lord, Art Thou greater than our father Jacob?

The Lord, in His humility, does not say plainly, I am greater, though indeed He is, so as not to appear boastful in the face of Saint Photini’s inquiry. Instead, He directs her mind back to His divine teaching, saying quite properly, Whosoever drinketh of this water will thirst again; that is to say, O woman, if you stand in awe of Jacob, who gave you this water, all the more does it behoove you to stand in awe of the one Who will give you a better water, one which leads to everlasting life. The water which I give becomes a fountain of water ever-abundant. For saints do not retain that which they received from God; but rather in the beginning they receive that grace, which is then multiplied and flows from them, and abounds for every good work.

Having heard such words, the woman began almost to disdain Jacob’s well. She said, Lord, if thou hast such water, give it to me, and no more shall I thirst, nor shall I come hither to draw. The Lord replies to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither, wishing both to indicate that the woman’s husband should also become a partaker of His grace, and to reprove the woman for her sinful state of life, for she was equally eager to receive (His gift) and to conceal (her own sinfulness); therefore she said, I have no husband.

But our Lord Who knows all things, revealed and displayed His power; at once He counted her previous husbands and exposed her present putative husband. On hearing these things, the woman did not deny them, nor was she offended; she did not run away and leave Christ, but confessed her wonderment and testified further, saying, Lord, I see that Thou art a prophet. Thereupon she questioned Christ about matters of divinity, about faith and the worship of God. Not about earthly matters, such as physical health or possessions, did the Samaritan woman inquire, but about faith in God and piety; she was a woman wise of soul, ready to do good and to practice virtue. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, she said, recalling those who were, like Abraham, men of pure and undoubting faith, wisdom and obedience.

The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father, the Lord replies. In uttering these words the Lord foretells the destruction of Samaria as well as of Jerusalem, which they suffered when they were uprooted by the Romans, after the death of our Lord. Ye worship ye know not what. Though both Jews and Samaritans believed in and worshipped the very same God, the Samaritans were ignorant of the fact that the Lord is God over all nations; they thought that He only ruled over Samaritans and Jews; whereas the Jews knew that God is Ruler over all. Hence, the Lord said to the Samaritan woman, Ye worship ye know not what; that is to say, Ye know not the power of God, and that I am the Lord of all creation. The Lord numbers Himself also among the Iews, saying, We know what we worship, since He was of Jewish origin according to the flesh, and was considered a Jew by the Samaritan woman. He further says that salvation is of the Jews, inasmuch as salvation himself, our Lord Jesus Christ was according to the flesh born of that people.

But the hour cometh, says Christ; indeed, now is the time of My coming, when true worshippers will neither worship in one place alone, like the Samaritans, nor will they worship at Jerusalem, like the Jews, who offer to God the sacrifice of the Law, which is but a shadow of that which is to come. Rather, they will worship in every place, and will offer to God the true sacrifice, no longer a shadow or mere prefigurement.

Because God is a spirit, He seeks spiritual worshippers, and because He is Truth, He seeks true worshippers. The hour cometh when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. “ “True worshippers” He calls those who believe in Him; clearly this refers to those who are of His Church, for in the Church is God truly honoured, and God in the fulness of His revelation is adored.

True worshippers worship God not merely bodily, but in spirit; in other words, not merely with material sacrifices, but with spiritual sacrifices; for our form of sacrifice is not performed with sheep and cattle, but with the spiritual soul, and the unbloody sacrifice of the new and eternal testament, all according to Christ’s words that God is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

Truth, my friends. The lips of a truthful man are hallowed by the Truth, Which is Christ our God. Let us, therefore, this very day approach God in truth and purity, for He is Truth and Life, that we also may live, and may be filled with the true living water, which will satisfy our spiritual thirst, and may we be liberated from the evil things of this world, and may be vouchsafed eternal good things, by the grace of the true God and Saviour Christ, to Whom be glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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