St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

(sermon by Archpriest Andrei Chizhenko)

On the fifth Sunday after Pascha, at the Sunday Liturgical reading the Church remembers the Gospel passage, which in theological literature is called, “Christ’s Conversation with the Samaritan Woman” (Jn. 4:5-42).

The theme of the Sunday of the Paralytic continues to develop in it, and completely new notes and meanings begin to sound.

What makes these two Sundays similar? They are united by one common subject.

The time of the Old Testament is over. It was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. A new era of the New Testament has begun.

The Pool of Bethesda is no longer needed, nor is the descent of the Archangel Michael into it. This is because the One Who is immeasurably greater than the pool and millions of times stronger than the Archangel Michael has come to Bethesda. God, Who deigned to become man for our salvation, has come into the world. He is able to heal all those lying at the Pool of Bethesda with one word, as He did with the paralytic.

During Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman, the same thing happens. Though in this case it is not so much the physical as the spiritual healing of a sinful woman—a half-pagan, promiscuous woman. And here, too, there is an Old Testament object—the well of the holy Patriarch Jacob, which provided the whole area with refreshing water in the desert lands of the Southern Levant.

And here is the One Who is greater than water and greater than Patriarch Jacob. He came to give the world new Heavenly bread and new Heavenly water. By the bread that comes down from Heaven (cf. Jn. 6) we should understand the Body and Blood of Christ, and by the new water, the grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit, which nourish believers, just as the roots of trees are nourished by living spring water. And the soul of such a person blooms and is fragrant with Heavenly aromas!

And these new Heavenly bread and water become the foundation of the future indestructible Church of the New Testament!

Let us recall the words of the Savior to the Samaritan woman: If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water… Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (Jn. 4:10, 13-14).

And then our Lord Jesus Christ says: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23, 24).

Here we see a direct relation between water and God the Spirit, Who, together with the Father and the Son, gives this living grace—water—to people.

And he who worships the Father in spirit and in the truth (Jn. 4:23) will drink this living water of God’s grace, and it will give him such bliss and joy that he will never agree to part with it, not for all the riches in the world, even if his biological life is threatened.

This happened, for example, with the Samaritan woman herself (she is known in Church history as the holy Martyr Photina (in Greek, “light”, “the luminous one”, in Church Slavonic “Svetlana”), with her sons Victor (named Photinus, that is, “Light”) and Joses, and some other martyrs who suffered with the Samaritan woman (Anatola, Phota, Photis, Paraskeva, Kyriake, Domnina and the holy Martyr Sebastian). The feast day of the holy Martyr Photina and those who suffered with her is April 2.

They suffered terrible torments, but did not renounce Christ. Once they had tasted of God’s living water, they became light-bearing and began to radiate light to the world. Because the inner darkness of their heart had been enlightened by the Paschal light of Christ, and they were given real, genuine, blessed life in God. This became their greatest treasure and the pearl of great price, for which one can sacrifice everything (cf. Mt. 13:45, 46).

Today we too have a well, but not Jacob’s. We have a greater one! The Well of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the Church.

The winds of persecution are blowing, trying to destroy and fill this well with sand. But the light-bearing living water of the grace of the Holy Spirit still shines in it. Come and quench your thirst, drink your fill and enjoy it. It will change, purify, heal and sanctify you. And it will give you eternal life.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

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