Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Met. Georges Khodr on the Samaritan Woman

Arabic original here.

A Spring of Living Water

Today's Gospel reading relates to us an enormous dialogue between Jesus and a sinful Samaritan woman, a dialogue that includes all the senses of salvation and in which there is all of Pacha. The incident is that the Lord, while going from Judea to Galillee, South to North, had to cross Samaria, the place that today is called Nablus. There still exists today the well in a place visited by pilgrims.

The Lord sat down in the early afternoon because He was tired. The woman came to Him while the disciples had gone into the city to buy food. The Lord asked her to give Him water to drink and she was amazed because He was Jewish and she was of another religion and another race. The Samaritans are a people of which today there are still around two hundred persons in Nablus and the diaspora. They were originally Jewish, but they mixed their worship with pagan rituals when the Assyrians and Babylonians came and occupied Palestine. They remained in Samaria and did not believe in the prophets. They only believed in the five books of Moses and did not accept the other books of the Old Testament. Thus they were considered foreign in religion and race.

The woman was amazed that this Jewish prophet was speaking to her, as there was a rupture between the the two peoples. The Lord said to her, "If you know the gift of God and who it is who is speaking to you now, then you would have asked Him to give you living water." The woman naturally thought that  He was talking about the water that comes from the well and she was amazed that He thought Himself greater than Jacob, the Father of Fathers, who had given them this well. At that point the Lord brought her up to loftier understandings and said to her what can be understood to mean, "I am not talking to you about material water that is drunk. Rather, I am talking to you about another water, about an invisible water that I give to people. He who drinks of it will never be thirsty. The water that I give to you is transformed in the human person into a spring that wells up from eternal life." This means that one who is united to Jesus becomes in turn a spring of life. It is not only God who is a spring of spiritual life for us, a spring of grace, a spring of giving. Every believer becomes like Christ: the life of grace, waters of consolation, waters of kind words well forth from him. What is important is for each of us to become a living Gospel. Each Christian must be like Christ: His mouth must pronounce words of gold. His eyes must shine forth flashes of divine light. He must be satisfied with what the Lord gives. The matter at hand for us is not eating or drinking, but rather that we are wells. Each one of us is a well. If one knows how to connect to Christ, he is Christ's vicar. Each Christian is a vicar of Christ because each Christian is a spring.

The Samaritan woman was enchanted by the Lord's words and she said, "Give me this water so that I will not have to come again to this well." Jesus saw that He could now transform her from a sinful woman into a holy woman and said to her, "Go call your husband and come back here." She said, "I do not have a husband." He said, "You have spoken correctly. You have had five husbands and the one who is with you now is not your husband. He only lives with you." Then she was startled and said, "Lord, I see that You are a prophet." She then wanted to discuss theology and so she posed Him a question comparing Jews and Samaritans, "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain (Mount Gerezim, upon which today is built the city of Nablus), but you say that worship is in Jerusalem." We hear Jesus saying to her at the beginning, "The Jews are correct and you, the Samaritans, are in error for salvation is from the Jews. But now we are now at a new juncture: there will come an hour-- and now it has come-- when those who truly worship worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. That is, at My coming, there is no more importance for the Jewish religion or the Samaritan religion. There is no place for this silly difference since those who truly worship worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, deep down in the Spirit and in sincerity. The point is for us to become spiritual people, detached from attachment to places, detached from material cares and from animal sacrifices in Jerusalem. This age that was shall end. God, who is spirit, is worshiped in the Spirit. He is worshiped with a pure heart. He is worshiped with an enlightened intellect. The religion of all shall be in the heart." Then the rest of the incident happened. The woman left her pitcher and forgot everything when she recognized the Lord. She went to spread the Good News, going to her people who asked Him to stay with them.

From then on, the Samaritan woman was named "Photini", which is a Greek word meaning "enlightening" or "enlightened". The Samaritan woman was enlightened and she repented of her wickedness, before Jesus, before His love, before His call to her. At this time between Pascha and the Ascension we are like Photini. We spread the Good News of the living, life-giving God, of the God who is a spring from which wells forth streams of water into our hearts. And from our hearts they stream forth to the people around us.

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