Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Then came He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus by the well; and it was about the sixth hour.
Like Moses, His prophetic predecessor and type, our Lord sits down by a well, being wearied from His journey (Ex. 2:11-15). Unlike Moses who was fleeing Pharaoh’s wrath, that is to say, Moses was running for his life having killed an Egyptian who had been abusing a Hebrew slave, our Lord isn’t fleeing from someone or some thing, but rather He has a date with destiny or, moreso, with a particular person – with the Samaritan woman – though she doesn’t know that yet. Though wearied in His human nature, our Lord as God nonetheless is always actively searching out the lost, thirsting for their salvation and does not rest until He has accomplished that (Mt. 18:11-14; Lk. 19:10).
It is about noon, so we’re told, the sixth hour of the day, the hottest part of the day. Typically, going to the well was a morning chore, done in the cool of the day just as once God had walked in Paradise in the cool of the day seeking out the man and the woman whom He had created for communion (Gn. 1:26-27; 3:8). Going to the well was a communal or social event when neighbors would gather to converse and exchange news and stories as they hauled up buckets of water to replenish their supplies at home. The well was also a place where future brides could be found because that’s where the women of the village or city could be found carrying out their daily chores. Moses meets his future wife there at the well he had sat down by. It is by the well that Abraham’s faithful servant finds for his master’s son, Isaac, Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, as his future bride (Gn. 24:1-67). Likewise, Isaac’s son, Jacob, is sent by his father to return to Rebekah’s family and to take from them a wife. Jacob does so. He spies the lovely Rachel, the daughter of Laban, the granddaughter of Bethuel, who was coming to the well to water her flock (Gn. 28:1-5; 29:1-12).
And so, when our Lord came to Jacob’s well in the land of Samaria and sat Himself down by it, He came in search of a bride. He came not to marry her per se, but to save her, to redeem her, to sanctify her – body, soul, and spirit (1 Th. 5:23). “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).
And the woman of Samaria? She came, not looking for a husband (for she already had had five, so we’re told, and her current cohabitator wasn’t one either), but she came as a social pariah to the well at the time of day when no one else would perchance be there, no one, that is, but her Saviour and true Lover of mankind. He comes looking for her as much as He had searched for the fallen couple in Paradise. Our Lord speaks first, drawing her into the well of conversation (Pr. 18:4). He Who seeks refreshment from her will become for her – and all who are like her – refreshment, Living Water, “’springing up into Everlasting Life.’” Jesus seeks her out for her good and wills nothing but her good because He is “a good God and loves mankind.” What Eve had thrown away in her dialog with the devil who had likewise struck up a conversation with her, this Samaritan woman by the well will regain: she will inherit Life Everlasting and will once again participate in true communion with God by becoming a participant in the true worship of God as His new creation in the midst of God’s new creation – the new and holy Temple – the Body of His Son. “’For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.’” Jesus comes to seek and to save by calling each and every one of us sinners to His Marriage Supper. He comes to take to Himself a Bride, a Wife (2 Cr. 11:2; Ep. 5:22-33; Rv. 19:7). Indeed, “’Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!’” (Rv. 19:9). What our Lord is doing is that He is leading this woman – and all of us sinners who like this woman are of faith – He is leading us all to His Bride, to the Church, to the well greater than that of Jacob, to the Fountain of Life, to the well of grace and mercy springing up unto salvation and divination! Here, in the Church, the well springing up with Life Everlasting we receive all that is absolutely necessary for our salvation and our sanctification. We sing at the conclusion of having received the Holy Eucharist: “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” (Post-Communion Troparion). For God and God alone makes us worthy to partake of His holy, divine, immortal, and Life-giving Mysteries. And we pray Him to keep us all in His holiness that we may meditate upon His righteousness all the days of our life (Post-Communion Troparion).
This is what our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ offers this woman and all of us who rightly confess our sinfulness before Him. Ironically, this woman came to the well to fetch water to quench her thirst and came face-to-face with God. It is only in her meeting with the Lord God Himself that she is led to see, believe, and confess just how truly parched she is in the core of her being. She no doubt, like many of us, lived day to day thinking and believing that this is just the way things are, this is just how I am. She bounced around from one unstable relationship to another not really realizing that this was a symptom of a far greater and much deeper drought of her soul. This wasn’t just the cards dealt to her by life. It was of her own making and choosing. She had no clue as to what ate at her and drove her. Each new man in her life gave her inspiration and each man left behind became a stinging testimony of how much the things of this world do not deliver what they entice us to believe. How many men, like her, used her just as she had used them, each trying desperately to find themselves?
Jesus exposed her darkness with His divine light. In the face of Jesus Christ do we see just how parched our lives truly are and have become because the roots of our human nature have been shriveled up and made “barren of all virtue,” St. Cyril of Alexandria says “by the crimes of the devil.” Every day we go to a well to draw from, beloved. That well may be poisoned or it may be as good as Jacob’s well that has slaked the thirst of many over the years. But, we always leave unfulfilled, unsatisfied, discontent, still thirsty (Jr. 2:12-13; 17:13). Whatever we have found doesn’t ultimately last very long but dissipates quickly. It doesn’t quench our thirst but only aggravates it, increases it. The wells we choose to draw from may speak to our flesh, but they never can speak to our souls because we were created by God for God – to worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. Only Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, can quench our thirsting souls, as He says here (Ps. 35 :9). From Him as the Source and Well-spring comes Eternal Life, the divine Life of God from which we had been deprived by the devil in the Garden. Now, in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, “human nature runs back to its pristine beauty, and drinking in that which is Life-giving,” St. Cyril says, “it is made beautiful with a variety of good things and, budding into a virtuous life, it sends out healthy shoots of love toward God.”
Beloved, what are the wells we choose to go to to drink from? If our Lord would come to us at that well, would we be so willing to give to Him to drink from it? Jesus meets us each by those wells, but then He bids us to drink of Him, from Him. He bids us to follow Him. He brings us to the well greater than Jacob. He brings us to His Bride, to the Church to draw from her well that never runs dry because her well is Christ God Himself. Our Lord is here in this place to refresh all those who are tired of vain strivings, of spinning their wheels and getting nowhere meaningful or substantial in this life, of ever looking but never finding (Mt. 11:28-30). With her true worship of God and her Mysteries she is an oasis in the midst of this parched and barren world. She is Paradise re-gained in which God and man are restored through Jesus Christ to holy communion once more. Here, through our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, in His holy Church, His Body and Bride, the words of the Prophet are fulfilled:
‘Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting Covenant with you, . . . .’ (Is. 55:1-3).
Beloved, let our souls revel in the fatness of God offered to us. Let us ask of Him and He will give to us living water, His living water springing up unto Everlasting Life – the gift and the grace of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37; Rv. 21:6; 22:17). Let us abandon the wells that only leave us panting for more but never can fulfill. Let us drink deeply of Jesus Christ from the well of His Church (Ps. 41 :1-11).
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, 29-30