Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
(John 4:5- 42)
In the Gospel appointed for today, we hear of our Lord’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Our Lord and His disciples had been journeying from Judea, headed toward Galilee, and came to rest and get some refreshment in the heat of the midday. While the disciples went into the town to buy some food, Jesus rested next to the village well. A Samaritan woman approached to draw water from the well and our Lord entered into conversation with her.
That Christ would approach her and converse with her, was remarkable in itself. Not only was this woman something of an outcast within her village due to her immoral ways, but as a Samaritan, she was shocked that a Jew would deign to speak to her – ‘for Jews had no dealings with Samaritans’.
We see from this account, and from many others, that Jesus Christ does not turn anyone away. He ‘came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’
Throughout the Gospel, we should recall who received the harshest words from Christ – it was not the sinners, but the self-righteous. Our Christian faith must never manifest itself in arrogance and self-righteousness, judging others from an imagined pedestal of favor with God. Our Christian faith must manifest itself in humility, in gratitude for the infinite patience and mercy and love of God.
As long as we approach our Lord with love, with a contrite and humble heart, and with a sincere desire to turn away from our sins, God will have mercy on us. As long as we are approaching God with this thirst and this sincerity to repent and draw closer to Him, God will not turn us away. He awaits our return and He welcomes us, He has mercy on us, and, forgiving and healing us, He exhorts us to ‘go and sin no more’.
And so it was with the Samaritan woman at the well - having approached the Lord and entering into conversation with Him, what did she encounter and receive? Our Lord spoke to her of the living water that shall be like a well of water within us, forever able to quench our thirst and springing up into everlasting life. He revealed to her His knowledge of her sins and troubled life and yet He did not send her away. He elevated her vision and understanding of the omnipresence of God, Who is everywhere present and fillest all things and that we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. And, when she said that she knew that the Messiah was coming, Christ revealed Himself to her saying: ‘I that speak unto thee am He’.
Something happened within the heart and soul of this woman. When we first meet her, she is going to the well in the heat of the midday sun in order to avoid the townspeople. But now, she has encountered the Lord and has communicated with Him, receiving the words of life. Now she leaves behind her water jug and runs off to gather up the townspeople to tell them the good news of the arrival of the promised Messiah. What a remarkable transformation has occurred! And indeed, there was something new about her that was able to persuade the townspeople not only to not shun her, but to listen, to believe, and to come and see for themselves.
Our Lord revealed to her that we must worship in spirit and in truth. We must seek and hunger for truth… desiring to know God as He is, not as we might wish Him to be.
We must pray in spirit and in truth… Our prayers must come from the depth of our spirit. It is good to pray with our mind and with our tongue… reading the words of our prayers with attention. And it is even better when our heart is touched, and our prayers of attention can be sweetened with warmth and feeling for God. And let us recognize that God calls us ever deeper… Our prayer can and should be more than just our daily duty or an emotional response to God. God summons the deeper part of our spirit unto communion with Himself.
When we pray in a way which touches the spirit, we move beyond mere recitation of words, we move beyond our emotional reactions… when the spirit is engaged we become aware of our conscience, we become aware and concerned of those things which create obstacles between us and the love and grace of God. When the spirit is engaged our attention is wholly directed upon the Person of God… we stand in awe and trembling, in love and admiration and gratitude to our Father in Heaven, and we are stirred by that indescribable joyful-sorrow of longing for God… that sense of ‘homesickness for Heaven’.
Our Lord revealed to St Photini - the Samaritan woman at the well - that God is worshipped in spirit and in truth. This is a joyful proclamation of the omnipresence of God and of the approachability of God for all people. It is also an instruction for us in true prayer and worship. And finally, it is a revelation and declaration of the Holy Trinity… for God the Father is worshipped in the Holy Spirit and in the Truth, Who is Christ our Lord.
The Lord revealed to St Photini and to us that God is everywhere present and fills all things… that the time had come when God would be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth.
May we live each moment of our lives in that conscious awareness of the presence of God. If we can but remember that one thing - that God is present with us everywhere and at all times – it may be both a source of correction and consolation for us. May that Living Water of the grace of God fill us with spiritual refreshment and renewal, and may it enable us to worship our Lord God in spirit and in truth!