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  • Fr. Athanasius Oweis

What Do You Really Want in Your Life? - Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, May 22nd 2022

JOHN 4:5-42

At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to him.

Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying "Rabbi, eat." But he said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony. "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed Christ the Savior of the world."

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

Christ is Risen!

A Flashback

This story that took place in today’s Gospel, had a shadow in the Old Testament, particularly Genesis 24, when our great father Abraham was looking for a wife for his son Isaac, and he wanted a special one for him. He didn’t want a Canaanite gentile woman, He wanted a woman from his people, the Jews. So he asks the help of his main servant. His servant had a clever plan: He will go and stand by the well of water, while the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. He will pick a woman and ask her for a drink, if she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—then she would be the one God has appointed for Isaac. Because by this he will know that she have shown kindness to my master.”

And this is what happened, the servant went with his camels, a very beautiful young woman called Rebeka comes. The servant asks her, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.”

So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” Long story short: Rebeka became Isaac’s wife, and the mother of Jacob/Israel.

The Continued Surprise

In today’s Gospel we see a similar story. Christ is full of surprises. In the most unexpected turn, we find the symbol of ultimate Jew, Jesus Christ, taking a turn, and talking to a gentile. This gentile is a woman. The Bible mentions in verse 4 which is not included in today’s Gospel: He had to pass through Samaria. He didn’t have to because this is the road, He, as philanthropos, the lover of mankind, had to come to this woman. She needed to be saved, and He had to save her.

Give me a Drink

Usually, all women came early in the day to get the water before it is too hot. It was crowded in the morning. But this woman came midday, she fled the eyes of everyone. It is totally ironic, how she wanted to hide from judgement: The judgement of others, who have no right to judge her whatsoever, and now she is before Christ, the true judge, the just judge, the one who will be judging everyone. And yet, He never judges her. Here, we have to stop and emphasize to those who look at Christ legally, with human scrupulous legality, Christ is not litigious, He didn’t come to judge, but to save.

Christ rather, in all gentleness, asks the woman a drink because this is what she was doing. He asked her something that she can do, not something out of her reach. People who are hesitant to come to Christ are afraid that He might ask them to do impossible things. This is never true. Christ always go down to our level and lifts us up by His tender hand.

A lost woman

This woman was extremely lonely. She came to the well by herself, she had no women friends, and even her boyfriend didn’t come with her. She was thirsty for love, not for water. She tried everything, she tried the first man, hoping that this man will fill her heart, and fulfills her dreams. This never happened. She went to her first divorce, which by the way, in that part of the world, is not something normal, a divorced woman lives a life of shame in the Middle East. She will always be stigmatized. If she married another man, even more shame, because then it shows to the people that she cannot control her urges. She did not care, she let her needs drive her. “This time will be better, I promise”, she thought to herself, “I learned from my mistake”. Were her needs fulfilled? not even close! We know how that went, She is still empty. She is even in a worse situation than before, needs and urges with stigma and a society that does not show mercy! May be third time is the charm, “This time is the one, I am positive”, she had hope, only to be hit with a bigger disappointment, and another, and another, and now she is hopeless. She does not love her boyfriend, if she does, she would’ve married him and calmed a little bit the gossip of the people around her, but she does not. She is still lonely! She is very lonely.

What do you really want in your Life?

My question to you is: Tomorrow when you wake up, what do you want to do, and why? What do you want to achieve? Better career? You are now definitely in a better career than you were few years ago. How did that go? Can you please tell me?

What do you really want in your Life?

More money? I am sure you have more money today than you had few years ago. How did that go? Can you please tell me?

Bigger house? newer car? Better reputation? More friends? Bigger business? More power?

What do you really want in your Life?

How many times have you tried to fulfill your needs, but to no avail? Your daily needs are promised to be fulfilled by Christ, and Christ alone, when He fills your life first. When He fills your thoughts, your dreams, your goals, your plans, your time, your money. When, and only when, everything you do is targeted for Him and for His glory. Your needs will be fulfilled. Otherwise, we will be like the Samaritan woman, running in a viscous circle, running after our needs like after a mirage in the desert.

What do you really want in your Life?

Are you thirsty for the dead water? Or are you thirsty for the living water? Are you thirsty for Christ?

A Marriage Proposal

Christ’s words: "Give me a drink" remind us with the Groom’s words in Song of Songs 5:1 while talking to His bride:

I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse;

I have gathered my myrrh with my spice;

I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;

I have drunk my wine with my milk.

Christ asked the woman for a drink because His drink was her salvation. He told His disciples: "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Christ’s food and drink was her heart, and our hearts, to be filled by His love. Opposite to the Old Testament Story, Christ is the one who asks for a drink, but He is the one who gave her the drink. Christ gives, and always gives. Look at the beauty of Christ. What happened between Christ and the Samaritan woman was not a regular conversation. It was a marriage proposal. Not a regular human marriage, but a marriage from heaven. Between the Creator and His bride, the Church, the people who are looking to be saved. The people who look for love that never wanes. The woman told Christ: “I have no husband”. Last week the paralytic told Christ: “I have no man”, and Christ was The Man for him. Today the woman is crying to Christ the truth, this truth that plagued throughout the five failed marriages and the current sinful relationship, that she is not satisfied, and she could not find what she is looking for: “I have no husband”, what happened was as if Christ was telling her: “I am your husband”, “I will fill your heart in a manner that no man was ever able to fill”. And He truly did. The Groom’s wine, is to find and save His bride, us, the Church. Look at the tenderness of Christ.

The woman that was hiding from people, left what she came for, her water jar, ran to the middle of the town, and cried loudly that she found The Man, she found the one who exposed all her sins. She is not shy anymore, her sins are now too small, compared to the joy that she found, to the Divine love that she found. Nothing matters anymore, she has found The Man, she found the true water that quenched her thirst for real love, not eros, but agape. She came out of the darkness and became enlightened. Her given name reflects that, “Photini/ Svetlana” means enlightened.

When You Find Christ

When you find Christ, you leave your water jar, what you labor for in life, and run to the people to tell them, “Come and Drink” the true waters. Christ is full of surprises. So is the life with him. You who are here today, will drink, the true drink, the cup of salvation, the Chalice that carries the blood of life.

May the Mother of God the Theotokos, and St. Photini help us be filled by him and let our thirst be only for Christ. Amen

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