Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“[A]nd [Jesus] needed to go through Samaria. Then came He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. . . .”
The long and the short of it is that our Lord God and Saviour Jesus chooses to travel on His way back north “through Samaria” although He could’ve circumvented that forbidden land. For we are told very clearly here in this Gospel – and in others – that there was no love-loss between the Jews and the Samaritans who, putting it mildly, despised one another, albeit Samaritans could interact with the Jews but not vice-versa. As our Lord says, He intentionally goes “through Samaria” because He must needs do the will of His Father Who has sent Him with purpose and intent, “’and to finish His work,’” that is, to complete and perfect God’s saving and sanctifying mission.
So, Jesus goes “through Samaria” to fulfill the Father’s will and to “’finish His work.’” Jesus goes in search of a bride, to take to Himself a wife. He does what His ancestors have done before Him, ancestors like Jacob and Isaac and Moses, who all found their future brides by going to the local watering hole (Gn. 24:10-27; 29:1-11; Ex. 2:15-20). Wells, obviously, played an essential role in the life of the community, and they still do though not like they once did. They were the places of gathering, of socializing and local chit-chat, of catching up on the news. They served as landmarks and were points of destination, and they were good for scoping out future brides, among other things. Wells were true and very real centers of life, the source of life for both man and livestock. For without the life-giving waters wells supplied there was no life, no community. And, if a well got contaminated, that spelled doom for those who depended on it to renew, replenish, refresh, and rejuvenate with its life-sustaining gift of water (Ex. 15:22-27).
So, Jesus comes to the well of Sychar at noon or the sixth hour of the day. And He sits down and He waits because He’s tuckered out by His journey and because He must fulfill the Father’s will. And so, “there came a woman of Samaria to draw water.” We know this woman as St. Photini, the illumined one, as her name means. Though it is high noon, she nevertheless lives her life in darkness. She comes to do her daily chore, but she does it, oddly enough, in the hottest part of the day with the sweltering sun overhead. She comes alone while all the others in Sychar take their rest from the heat of the day. She comes at this time of the day because she has to. No one else would be seen with her because of her immoral lifestyle. She was, in a sense, ostracized by her community for her moral failures and shortcomings.
And yet, fully knowing this, what does our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ do but ask her to quench His thirst. He thirsts, to be sure, but it is not for the water from Jacob’s well. No, He thirsts for her soul, for the healing of her wounded and passion-riddled life, for her redemption and her salvation and sanctification, which He and He alone can offer, though she has yet to know that. When He says to her, “’Give me a drink,’” He means far more than “Wet my whistle.” He means, “Give Me your life, give Me your soul, give Me your heart. Give Me your very self and I will give you Life and Light!” Her surrender to faith in Him would satisfy His thirst and finish the work of God there in that place despised even more than Gentiles, if that were possible! Jesus knows her. He has seen her by the well just as surely as He saw Nathanael under the fig tree back in chapter 1 of this Gospel (Jn. 1:48)!
He Who will cry out from the Cross, “’I thirst!,’” (Jn. 19:28), now calls out to her, “’Give Me to drink.’” Perplexed by His request precisely because Jesus is a Jew and she a despicable Samaritan – and morally compromised to boot! – Jesus says to her, “’If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living water.’” He Who thirsts now promises to quench her thirst! She counters what appears to be a contradiction just how this would be so since He obviously has nothing to dip deep into the cold waters of Jacob’s ancient well, and she wonders if He fancies Himself greater than the Patriarch Jacob, founder and benefactor of this life-giving, life-sustaining well. “’Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,’” Jesus says, “’but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into Everlasting Life.’”
Jacob’s water can assuage thirst, only Jesus Christ can quench and satisfy our thirst! Surely, Someone greater than Jacob sits before her. But, she doesn’t yet comprehend by faith just how great this Man is. She doesn’t yet grasp that before her sits her Creator, her Saviour, her Bridegroom! Every day she has come to this well and drawn forth from its cistern that which only slakes her thirst but for a moment and she must return each and every day, all for the same repeatable results! “’Sir, give me this water,’” she implores, almost desperately, yearning to forgo all these wasted and humiliating trips to this well. This well reveals her wasted life spent like the prodigal son on profligate living (Lk. 15:11-32). These repeated trips to draw each and every day from a well that can never quench her thirst show forth just how parched her so-called “life” truly is! She has spent all she has on failed relationships, going from one man to another, desperate for love, desperate to find someone who might fulfill her, give her meaning and purpose. Five times she has tried (at least that we are aware of) and five times the exact same result! The well she has been drawing from has been contaminated by the poison of sin. She has been doing the same thing again and again, each time hoping, imagining, different results! Each man has either used her or she has used them, but each time there is no change.
And yet, what does she do? She keeps coming back to that same well and drawing from it – a futile and fruitless and endless cycle! Denial in action! Isn’t this the definition of insanity? And yet, are we much different? Who of us hasn’t been there and done that right alongside of her? We keep coming back – no, we insist on coming back – to the same well to draw from, either totally blind or totally defiant. But, Jesus comes to us. This is what God in His mercy and holy love is always doing. Some might even charge that God is crazy for doing so, just as crazy as us for trying the same thing over and over and each time expecting a different outcome! But, He comes as the jealous Lover of mankind to “’finish His work’” “for us men and for our salvation” (Nicene Creed). He comes to complete and perfect His fallen creation, created in His divine image and according to His divine likeness, to restore and renew and regenerate our lives corrupted by the power of sin, the darkness of death, and the envy of the devil (Gn. 1:26-27; 5:1; WS 2:23-24; Pp. 1:6).
“’If [only] you knew the gift of God,’” He says to us, “’you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living water.’” But, just what is this “’Living water’” offered by our Lord and Lover of mankind? It is the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the Giver of Life” (Nicene Creed). “’If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink,’” Jesus says. “’He who believes in Me, . . ., out of his heart will flow rivers of Living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the [Holy] Spirit, . . . .,” says the Evangelist and Theologian (Jn. 7:37-39). Again and again in Sacred Scripture, we sinners are invited by God to come, come, come. “Come, take and eat. Come, take and drink.” “’You who are thirsty, go to the water, and all who have no money, go and buy wine and fat, and eat and drink without money and price’” (Is. 55:1). You who are impoverished by sin, whose lives are parched, broken, barren, unfulfilled, go, or rather, come to the well of the Church, the beloved Bride of Christ our God. “She is His new creation by water and the Word: from Heaven He came and sought her to be His holy Bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died” (“The Church’s One Foundation”). It is the Holy Spirit of God, the same Spirit Who moved over the face of waters and brought forth creation (Gn. 1:1-2), Who can create from our fallen and malformed lives a new creation in Jesus Christ as He comes upon us, to live in us, transfiguring us and transforming us once more into the image of God and His likeness, from one degree of divine glory to another (Lk. 17:20; Jn. 14:23; 1 Cr. 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Cr. 3:18; 5:17; Ep. 4:24; Co. 3:10). “[F]or the Kingdom of God [in us],” says the Apostle, “is . . . righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rm. 14:17).
Come to the waters of the Church. Come, drink deeply of her divine waters in Baptism, “the waters of the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Ts. 3:4-7). Why do we linger? Why do we wait? Come, let us drink of the refreshment of repentance and of Confession and Absolution and find our “Death Valley” to be once again like the Paradise restored in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit! The Church is the well springing up with Living water, the Fountain of Life (Ps. 35 :9). From her rushes forth “’rivers of Living water.’” In the Church, and only in the Church, because she is the Bride of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, “We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true Faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity Who has saved us!” (Troparion). It is for this good reason, then, that our Lord ultimately situates this conversation with St. Photini in true worship. “’For the Father is seeking such to worship Him . . . in Spirit and Truth,’” He says. True worship overflows with the water of divine grace in the Holy Spirit and is the well gushing up with Living water.
“’If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you Living water.’”
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of Life freely” (Rv. 7:17; 21:6; 22:17).
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
Ac. 11:19-26, 29-30Jn. 4:5-42