Fifth Sunday of Pascha – 2020

My dear friends in our Lord: Christ is risen!

In today’s Gospel we hear of our Lord’s interaction with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and of the good news of the living water of eternal life.

Last week we heard of the waters of the pool of Bethesda, stirred up by an angel to give bodily healing to the one who would enter the waters. This week, again we turn to the image of water, but in today’s Gospel, the waters are not simply acted upon by someone else, but they are themselves living.

Living water. Our Lord calls the water of His teaching and His grace living water. For like water, the word of our Lord cleanses us from sin, it extinguishes the flames of the passions, and heals and softens arid and barren hearts, just as water heals and softens parched earth. It is living water, because it contains life within itself, and it brings life to those in whom it springs up.

Our Lord spoke in such a way concerning His teaching, but the Samaritan woman, we see, initially thought in material terms, that our Lord was speaking of actual material water that would well up inside a person. It’s actually understandable that her mind would be drawn to such thoughts, seeing as she and the Lord were, after all, at the well of Jacob, and our Lord had indeed just asked her to give Him water of the well to drink.

The Lord meets the Samaritan woman where she was, you see. He does not come imperiously, but with a request: Give Me to drink. Likewise does He do with us. He meets us where we are, even as we go about our daily material duties, we encounter Him. And we might discover Him sitting not upon a throne – though it is right, just, and thoroughly fitting that He be enthroned, and so He is at the right hand of the Father – but in our encounter, we might find Him simply sitting at the well, as in today’s Gospel.

Think on that. As you go about your daily life, even in this somewhat odd time which we are going through right now, know that the encounter with the Divine is also very much a part of the experience. You might not see it beforehand. You might not even avert to it initially. You might not understand. The Samaritan woman certainly did not. But our initial inability to transcend our own worldly pre-occupations does not mean that Christ is not, in fact, right here speaking to us. For He is. And we hear His life-giving words in the Gospel.

Returning to today’s Gospel, we see that the Samaritan woman, upon hearing of the living waters offered by our Lord, requests honestly: 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.
The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly.”

Our Lord, Who knows all things, here reveals to the Samaritan woman His divine knowledge of her, and of her situation. She was, in fact, no stranger to Him, for He created her. And here, with His characteristic mildness, He reproaches her for her putative marital situation, true, but He also places the action in her hands, and acknowledges that she has spoken well in bringing forth the truth.

When we encounter the Lord and His word today, in what way is He challenging us? There is not a single one of us who does not have something within our life that needs to be brought forward to the light of grace. For those of you who are already very spiritually advanced, some area of improvement, at least. For the rest of us, those of us who are still very much struggling and surrounded by our own failures, some area of conversion for us, some selfishness that we cling to, even though in our heart we know it must be let go. Look to the Samaritan woman. She gives us example. On hearing what our Lord said, the woman did not deny it, nor was she even offended. She did not run away, but confessed her wonderment and testified further, saying, Lord, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.

And thereupon the Samaritan woman asked the Lord about matters of faith and piety. For she was a woman wise of soul, ready to do good and to practice virtue.

And then did our Lord open to her the truth of His teaching, the mysteries of truth regarding divinity, faith, and the worship of God. And it is precisely in this truth that we discover the living water of the teaching and grace of our Lord. The living water with which our Lord opened today’s discourse.

And this shows us the path to understanding, the path to truth, my friends. Firstly, we may encounter the Lord and His word in any place at any time, right now, or even as we go about our daily duties, any day. Upon meeting Him, His first request of us is that we exercise charity. That’s the first thing He said to the Samaritan woman, isn’t it? “Give Me to drink.” A work of charity, a corporal work of mercy. This is first – that we work charity. Without this, nothing can follow.

Charity being worked, we must then be open, even to the Lord’s reproach, that we do not flee from His presence, but that rather we bring ourselves in our entirety, even our failures, before Him in truth, just as the Samaritan woman did concerning her relationships.

Finally, and only then, with charity being worked and one’s life open before the light of the grace of the Lord, only then may we truly come to behold the glory which transcends all earthly truth, all earthly goodness, and all earthly beauty.

Today, the Lord announces to you the same good news: The water that I will give you, shall become in you a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. Ask Him for it.

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