Updated: May 13, 2020
What’s the Story?
After Jesus left Judea with His disciples to return to Galilee, He broke away from them to journey through Samaria (John 4:3-5). At around midday, He meets a woman (St Photini) who had come forth to draw water from the well, and He says to her, “Give Me a drink.” St Photini did not want to converse with Jesus as the Samaritans were traditional enemies of the Jews, engaging a different set of beliefs. Although both affirm the coming of a Messiah, the Samaritans only accepted the first 5 books of the Old Testament as scripture. Jesus begins to converse with her, revealing her life and in doing so, revealing Himself as the Messiah. The woman returns home to spread the word of her encounter and her testimony is therefore created. As St Gregory Palamas puts it, “she recognised Christ as true God and proclaimed Him with perfect theology.”
The Water of Wisdom
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” - John 7:38
The water of the well symbolises a newness offered in Christ. Just as water is an essential part of entering into the Church by baptism, Christ provides an opportunity to commune with Him by believing and following His divinity. In this way, one “shall never be thirsty” by believing in the promise of salvation. Living water in a daily sense means something that is fresh and useful to us — an essential part of our life. This ‘living water’ that Jesus offers is the Grace of the Holy Spirit that leads to eternal life, which flows throughout all of humanity for us to drink.
Longing for the water of eternal life.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” - John 7:37
Let’s put ourselves in St Photini’s shoes.
How often do you find yourself thirsting for something, but not really knowing what you’re thirsting for? Riddled with indecisiveness, facing empty promises from the physical world and a lack of discernment, at times, we are all searching for something more.
“I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.” - Psalm 143:6.
What did St Photini (even though she had met Christ physically) do to quench her thirst? She accepted the living water that Christ offered her. “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” - John 4:13-14. She believed, repented and evangelised. While our life is often caught up in earthly passions, we must remember to focus on Christ and receive this ‘living water’ to attain communion with Him. Our saints are the perfect example of this. We must always remember that we are worthy of having communion with God. St Photini herself was a Samaritan, forbidden to converse with Jews and with a man, and was a woman of moral deficiency having committed past sins with relation to her 5 husbands. She was also not supposed to be at the well at that particular time of the day, but was there anyway. At any point in our lives if we think we are unworthy of accepting this living water, let's remind ourselves of St Photini, who displayed faithful discipleship with her testimony, having proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah!
We are all worthy of God’s love, we must drink the living water to quench our thirst.
“The Samaritan Woman, having come to the well in faith, beheld You, the Water of Wisdom from which she drank plentifully and inherited the Heavenly Kingdom as one who is blessed forever.”
Gospel Reading: John 4:5-42
At that time, He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, “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.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting 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 and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such 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” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
And at this point His disciples came, and they marvelled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not laboured; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours.”
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word.
Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”