Gospel: John 4:5–42
So 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 thus 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 worshiped 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 worshipers 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 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 marveled 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 labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” 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 Savior of the world.” Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
The Samaritan Woman at the well is known to us as St. Photini, Equal-to-the-Apostles. After her life-altering meeting with Jesus Christ and His Death and Resurrection, she was baptized by the apostles with the name Photini (meaning “enlightened one”). She proceeded to evangelize many in Africa before being brought before Nero in Rome and receiving a crown of martyrdom along with her family. Photini came to the well to fill her water pot to sustain physical life but left with something much more—living water that quenched her spiritual thirst. Jesus Christ’s interaction with the Samaritan Woman is notable for several reasons. It was considered inappropriate for Jesus, as a teacher, as a male, and as a Jew, to engage in conversation with such a person. Samaritans were considered “half-breeds” or heretics—former Jews who had apostatized from the true faith. Jesus Christ, being the second Person of the Trinity, establishes that the Kingdom of God encompasses all people proclaiming His Word. Sometimes the unlikeliest people serve as His most convincing witnesses.The Gospel account also reveals to us how Jesus is able to see into the depths of all hearts and know who truly longs for Him and belongs to Him.
· What is happening in this Gospel lesson? What is the significance of Jesus Christ asking a Samaritan woman for a drink of water? What is the disciples’ reaction to this meeting? What is the living water?
· What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth? Is our worship in Spirit and Truth? How so?
· What does this Gospel mean to our lives?
· Filled with the Living Water—St. Photini took a water pot to fill from the well but instead she was filled with Living Water, Christ. Find something to represent your family’s “water pot.” At dinner every night have everyone write down things they did to drink of the living water (prayed, fasted, read the Bible, went to church, gave charity, etc.). When done, everyone can fold up their paper and place it in. Over the days the pot will fill—and your family will be filled with the living water.
· Family Ties—St. Photini first spread the Gospel of Christ to her family. They in turn continued to spread the Good News with her. Her five sisters and two sons were martyred along with her and are recognized as saints in our Church. Take time to research some of her family members and how they served Christ. Discuss how we as families can encourage each other to witness to Christ.
· Feasting on His Will—In this Gospel lesson Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” How can we feast on the will of our Heavenly Father? Include in your discussion the passage from the Lord’s Prayer that reads, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Samaritan woman goes off, leaving her water pot behind. She goes to her fellow countrymen: ‘Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?’ Faith in Christ has not only begun to shine in her soul, but she now takes upon herself a certain ministry, an apostleship. This apostleship is fruitful, because the Samaritans leave the city and come out to witness. Witness is quite different from preaching. The preacher says: ‘Believe this’ or ‘Do this’. The witness says: ‘This is what happened to me’. There is much greater efficacy, much greater persuasive power, in bearing witness than in preaching. We are not all called to preach, but each person can, in his own sphere, bear simple and humble witness to the graces that have been granted to him. —from The Year of Grace of the Lord by A Monk of the Eastern Church
When through your inexpressible dispensation, Christ God, you appeared on earth, the woman of Samaria, having heard your word, full of love for mankind, left her bucket at the well and ran saying to those in the city, “Come, see the one who knows the heart: is not this the expected Christ, who has great mercy?” Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.—from the Vespers of the Samaritan Woman
· Encountering Women of Faith edited by Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald—The authors, all Orthodox women theologians, succeed in telling the stories of several saintly Orthodox women whose icons we venerate in our churches. Published by InterOrthodox Press of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.
· From I-ville to You-ville by Mersine Vigopoulou—The unique and wise counsel of Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain is presented in a way that is perfect for children and adults alike. Published by Uncut Mountain Press.
· What’s Up with Women in the Church by Vasie-Leigh Chames—This great article for teenagers explains how women can have an active role in the church:
The life of the Orthodox Church perpetuates and fulfills the ministry of Jesus Christ. The close association between Christ and His Church is reflected in the images from the Scriptures which declare that Christ is the Head and the Church is His Body, and that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Learn more»