Sunday, May 17, 2020

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Arabic original here.

The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

The enmity between Jews and Samaritans was something well-known. This enmity explains when the Samaritan woman says to Jesus, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" (John 4:9). Jesus, for His part, is not concerned with this distinction between Jews and Samaritans, just as He pays no heed to any sort of social distinction between people, such as the distinction between men and women, etc.

Then the Evangelist John recounts to us how went from talking about drinking water to talking about living water, since He told the Samaritan woman, "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" (John 4:10). The woman thought that he meant running water, but He meant the water of eternal life.

Later on, the Evangelist says, "On the last day, that great day of the feast... Jesus said, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me... out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the [Holy] Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive" (John 7:37-39).

This reminds of us what John the Baptist said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me... will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). Man is constantly thirsting for happiness, but for earthly happiness. We are concerned with things of this material world and forget that we Christians are people who do not die, who are called to live eternal life.

Every believer becomes like Jesus, a spring of living water; the life of divine grace and waters of consolation well up from him.

In order to lead the woman from misunderstanding to true knowledge, Jesus invites her to bring her husband. The five husbands who are mentioned are a reference to the pagan peoples mentioned in 2 Kings 17:24, where it says "Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities." This is why Jesus says, "the one who is with you now is not your husband" (John 4:18), indicating that the religion of the Samaritans is not true.

From here, Jesus goes on to talk about true worship. He tells her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father... But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth."

Here is an indication of the coming of the hour of Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, an indication of the coming of new times when worship comes to be not in temples made with hands, but in spirit and truth, worship in Christ Himself, the true temple, as inner worship, a fervent, spiritual encounter, not merely just dogmatic, verbal, formal and ritual worship, but bowing down from the heart. This emphasis on the inner quality, on the spirit and not only on the body, this is what reminds us of what the Prophet Ezekiel said, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

 Then the woman left her jug. She became a new person named Photini. That is, enlightener or enlightened, evangelizing the world with this new inner worship which gives us eternal life, a foretaste of the kingdom that is to come.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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