Archive for the ‘Pascha:Sundays of’ Category

Wilt thou be made whole? Sunday of the Paralytic. 4th Sunday of Pascha.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Wilt thou be made whole?

A question we must answer at EVERY moment.

Sunday of the Paralytic. 4th Sunday of Pascha.

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/miracle-healing-of-the-paralytic-sheeps-pool.jpg originally at "Bishop Mefody on the Sunday of the Paralytic" http://ishmaelite.blogspot.com/2009/05/bishop-mefody-on-sunday-of-paralytic.html



Healing of the Paralytic at the pool of Bethesda .

 

In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

 

Today is the Sunday of the paralytic, in which we hear the story of a man who'd been ill for thirty-eight years and was finally healed. We have much to learn from this story. Now, the reason why it's said now, or part of the reason, is because, as the services said last night, at “mid-feast”, Jesus visited this paralytic. It's almost mid-feast now, it is almost mid-Pentecost. Pentecost is a feast of 50 days, and we're in that period awaiting Pentecost. And the Jews celebrated Pentecost also; they didn't understand the same meaning as we do, it changed, but they had a 50-day feast. Jesus came about towards the middle of that feast – mid-Pentecost – and saw this man by the pool of Siloam, with five porches there.

 

We can learn many things from this short story. Certainly we can learn something about patience, endurance, not complaining about what is our lot in life, what's wrong with our life, what's going on that we don't like.

 

We complain constantly and incessantly, and our complaining is a stench that rises up to God. Because when you complain, you're showing a lack of faith, a lack of obedience, a lack of love – indeed, a lack of understanding of who the God-man Jesus Christ is. Who of all among us, if anyone, could complain and feel justified – our Lord is the only one. But of course He understood what his task was and He took it joyfully, and with obedience, in order to save us by living on the earth, showing us the way, teaching us and then backing up what He said with His actions and his resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion. Indeed, we can learn a lot about patience by seeing this man; he wasn't complaining, and he was there for 38 years.

 

We can also learn something about Who it is who can cure, and what it is that He really cures.

 

Whether a man is withered, lame, blind, or whatever infirmity a man has, it is small compared to the infirmity of the soul. Jesus healed this man not just of his infirmity of being palsied, but of the infirmity of his soul. How do we know this? Because later on we see after he was healed and the man was in the temple – which is a good sign, he was thanking God – Jesus explained some things to Him. Now listen carefully! In our society we don't like to hear this, in our society this is somehow not allowed, people don't like to admit this, they almost think you're crazy or reactionary to make the connection with sin that our Savior did when He said, 'Thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee."  Now the fathers understand – and if you just know English you can understand – that he's making a reference to his palsy, his being a paralytic was it some measure caused by his sins.

 

This is not always the case. In fact, one time Christ was asked, "Was it because of the sins of his parents or himself that this man was born without eyes, blind?" Christ said neither one; if was that the glory of God might be made manifest. It's not always because of sins that a person suffers some affliction, but most of the time it is because of sins. Either because sin causes the affliction – smoking, drinking alcohol to abuse, drugs, and promiscuity, there's a long litany of things, diseases, that are caused by our own stupidity, by our wanton abuses. You can see fractured families because people don't deal with their anger, or their lust, or their impatience, or their selfishness; sin causes many problems such as that in a direct way. But in an indirect way sin causes many other afflictions, because we're so thickheaded we don't see God. We don't see God in the good things, and we take advantage of those good things and fall into depravity.

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/miracle-healing-of-the-paralytic-sheeps-pool-02.jpg From http://comethatmidnight.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/happy-mothers-day/ So God, in His wisdom, in His love, in His mercy, chastises us in order so that we might cleave unto Him.

 

It's the same principle with parents and their children; sometimes you must punish a child to help turn him to the right way, sometimes you must let a child suffer grievously in order to let him turn to the right way. If someone has a child that, let's say, gets involved in extremely dangerous and illicit behaviors and goes to jail, sometimes it's best not to bail the child out. God does the same thing with us. Our sins cause our suffering.

 

This society doesn't like to say that – "oh, how can you say this?" It does happen, to all of us. So if you have any situation in your life you're not pleased with – whether it's a physical infirmity, whether it's a relationship, whether it's job, or neighborhood, or family or whatever it is, "Physician, heal thyself." Look the in mirror; look in the mirror of the soul. What's wrong with you? What's causing it? As I said before, it's possible that such things could be caused not through your sins at all, but because of something else. But for the most part, our sins cause our sufferings. And yet we complain, and we complain and we complain. But we always complain about that person and that person, but never ourselves. That's the person you need to complain about. Complain, ask God to help you with your sins, with that which fills you with evil.

 

I was reading from a wonderful sermon by Bishop Nicholaj Velimirovich, and he said "A Christian should expect to suffer." How about that for politically incorrect speaking! He expects to suffer, and he is surprised and glad and rejoices when he does not suffer. He expects to suffer because of his sins, just as you, if you were subject to a king and had killed the king's deer, you expect that the king is going to have you executed. You're not going to complain about that, you're going to be sorry and ask for forgiveness to the king. And if the king gives you forgiveness – but you know, he'll say “Don't kill any more of my deer, but I forgive you this time” – then you'll rejoice. Now we can do this with an earthly king, but with our Heavenly Father we don't do this.

 

We seem to think we're owed so much. We breathe it in the very air; it's so polluted with Western ideas that pollute us: "We're owed something." We're not owed anything in terms of your lot in life. All of our life is affected by Gods’ providence: some of it caused by God, and some of it allowed by God depending on your own ingenuity and your own abilities. But it all goes away in a vapor, how you lived, what you've done in this world. What matters is how your soul has developed, and if you're made whole.

 

I see that there are three things in this story that really jump out at me. Now you know that the water represents baptism, and that the person who was put in the water was made whole. Notice how it is says "made whole"; not just their infirmity was healed, but they were made whole, but only one person, at one time in the season.

 

Christianity is to make one whole.  Baptism is for all men, not just for one man, at one time in the season.

 

And the man said to Christ, when Christ said, "wilt thou be made whole?" he said, 'I have nobody to help me." And he was looking at the Man who would help him; he was looking at the God-man who would help him, and he didn't know who He was yet.

 

Christ asks us this question continually. "Wilt thou be made whole?" And for the most part we answer him with a resounding "No." To some extent we've answered "yes"; we've come to the waters of baptism, we make an effort to fast, to come to the services – sometimes, unfortunately, a very poor effort to come to the services and I must mention that again. Don't lose your zeal; some of you are in very great danger of losing your zeal.

 

We make our small efforts, so yes indeed we say, to some extent,

"Yes, I want to be made whole, O Lord!"

 

But for the most part we say,

"No, I don't want to give up what I'm doing; I don't want to give up the sweetness of sin, or the sweetness of complaining, or the sweetness of excuses."

 

They're so sweet, aren't they? But they cover up bitter, bitter poison. So we must answer this question completely and totally,

"Yes, I want to be made whole!

 

“I want to be cleansed of all my sins, and I don't blame Thee, the Lord, or my friends, or my family, or anyone else for my sins and for my afflictions; they are mine and mine alone, and they are my fault. But Thou canst heal it; Thou art the man that can bring me into the water and can refresh me."

 

He is the One. We don't fully recognize that, either – oh, we believe it with our minds, with our lips, but if we really believed it we'd make much greater effort in living the Christian life.

 

And another thing jumps out,  when Christ said:

"Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more."

 

Christianity is a constant process of becoming whole, but it involved two free wills – God's, who is perfectly free, and ours, which should be free but has become enslaved to passions and lusts and corruptible things. But we were made to be free. It was our purpose. God made us to have perfect freedom. You know the Gospel of John where it says: "he will go in and out and find pasture"? The sheep, being able to go in and out, go wherever they wish, perfect freedom, but freedom in godliness, freedom in purity, freedom in perfection.

 

This is the purpose of our life – perfect freedom!

 

So we have to answer Christ, when He asks us the question "wilt thou be made whole?", "Yes!" And any portion which answers "no" we must confess with bitter tears.

 

Stop making excuses for yourself. Don't make excuses for not being able to say your prayers, for not being able to come to church, for not being able to come to confession, for not doing this, for not doing that, for this reason, for that reason, for why you do this and why you do that. You know it’s all a lie. I know it is a lie in my own life, so I strive to be honest concerning these things also. It's a lie.

 

And every time you make an excuse, you are saying "NO." You're saying "I don't want to be made whole. I like laying in the gutter, I like laying in filth. I like wallowing in my sins."

 

Don't allow yourself to do this. That's why the church has an order. This order is not rules and regulations, it is for our benefit. That's why I must speak of it over and over, and especially during this season, because during this season is the most likely time for a person to fall away. Part of that is because God has given us such great grace on Pascha, and we hardly accepted it; we accepted a few things, we accepted some of the sweet meats, but we didn't accept and take into ourselves the resurrection. We couldn't bear it and so, because of unthankfulness, we're starting to fall away. I don't really know anybody who is honest who doesn't say that this happens to them during the Paschal season. It happens to me, but I struggle against it.

 

So I beseech you, my brothers and sisters, struggle against this; don't make excuses, don't let your life be in the way of eternal life. Don't let your temporal life impair you, don't make excuses, don't say NO.

 

If you understood what Christ is saying, and says, when He says "wilt thou be made whole?", you'd be begging me to serve daily Liturgies. You'd be begging me, because you wouldn't want to go away from the temple, if you knew what wholeness really is. So taste God more and more, and as you taste more and more of God, you won't want to taste depravity.

 

But if you don't continue to taste of Him, and to "mount up like eagles" as it says in the Scriptures, to struggle, then it'll be a gradual slide. It might not be anything you notice, it might not be anything I notice – and I tell what, I keep my eyes peeled because, although I'm unworthy, I'm called to be a shepherd here, so I watch and I worry and I wait and I pray. But you know, in the long run, I'm not responsible for your salvation. To some degree I might have to answer if my own sins have caused you to falter, but you are all responsible for your own salvation. In the context of living the Christian life in community and in obedience, you are responsible.

 

Think a little about what it means to be whole. Which do you prefer – the inconstancy, the depravity, the weakness, the infirmity of this life, or wholeness, completeness, perfection and freedom? You and I are paralytics to some degree, sometimes to a great degree, and tragically this is usually of our own making.

 

So when Christ asks you – and He's asking you today, He asks you every moment of your life – "Wilt thou be made whole?" You MUST struggle to say "YES" and then you MUST back up your promise with action, with effort, with desire. Then indeed, you will be made whole.

 

God help you!

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 1999.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

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Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

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This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-sunday-04_1999+the-paralytic.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-sunday-04_1999+the-paralytic.doc

 

 

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The Myrrhbearing women – how to live in microcosm. Audio Homily 2010.

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

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The story of the myrhhbearers is like ours, in microcosm. Life is full of moments when we must "become bold" as Joseph (and the myrhhbearers) did, and do what is right, even if we do not how we can accomplish the task (roll away the stone and deal with the armed guards) or what will come of it. Even when we have accomplished something, or grace visits us, we may not recognize it or understand it, just like the myrrhbearers, who were afraid after hearing the announcement of the resurrection from the angel. The myrhhbearers who us the way – do what is right, or even what we think is right, no matter ho "possible" it seems or how likely that the outcome will be pleasing, and in time, all will be revealed to us. This Gospel continues the theme of how the enlightenment of the resurrection is actualized in us.

Many more Homilies on the Myrhbearers here.

Mark 15:43-16:8 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.


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Saint Thomas Sunday. Realism About The Resurrection. Audio Homily 2010

Monday, April 12th, 2010

SYNOPSIS:Of all the resurrection stories, perhaps the one concerning St Thomas is the one we can most relate to. He is the "common man", who was later able to do uncommon things. We are just like him, so our path of life must also be like his, which is the Christian life in microcosm. He, like us, was a complex indivicdual, believing, then faint of heart, couargeous, then full of fear. The one thing that he did that we must do to be saved is to endure, and "believe in the midst of our unbelief". If we do this, we are not far away from the supernatural exploits of St Thomas, the Apostle.

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John 20:19-31 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

 

OTHER HOMILIES FOR ST THOMAS SUNDAY


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The Samaritan Woman 2009. A textbook lesson in how to acquire the Holy Spirit

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

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The conversation of Christ with the soul. Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Fifth Sunday Of Pascha

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Christ is risen!  Truly he is risen!

 

Today we are privileged to witness a holy conversation.  This conversation is not just between Christ and a woman.   It is between Christ and the soul.  This is what we are privileged to see: God opening a window for us to look through, to see how the soul reacts, how it grows, how it learns, and how He enlightens it.  The fathers understand this to be the conversation of Christ with the soul.  Now he continues the theme of enlightenment that permeates all the services between Pascha and Pentecost, because the resurrection enlightens us, the resurrection vivifies; the resurrection gives us all that we need to know God. 

 

Now we’re waiting upon the Holy Spirit, and as good and faithful disciples, we should be more zealous at this time of year than at any other time.  Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite, as the years go by.  This is the least zealous time for Christians, but it is the most important time.  I guess that’s why people are so haphazard at this time of year: because it’s so important.  In many ways, this time is even more important than Great Lent.  This is the time for your blessing. God wants to enlighten you.  God wants to show you so many things.  This period of time is very holy.  Unfortunately it is also one of the most ignored times of the year, an ignored holy time of the year. 

 

Christ is showing us, the church is enlightening us about how we are to live, what the resurrection means.  We already know so much about what we should do and why we should do it, and the dos and the don’ts.  What we need as human beings is the sure certainty that we can do things, that we can change and the enlightenment of the revelation of God in the human soul.  This comes about because of the resurrection, these two things: certainty that we can change, and the revelation of God in the human heart.  This is what Christianity is, and this is what we are being shown today.  This is a holy thing, to be able to observe, to eavesdrop upon this conversation of Christ with the soul. 

 

Now, as it is in many, many passages of scripture, most of them, we should put ourselves in this situation.  We should consider ourselves as the Samaritan Woman at this point, and wonder how we would react.  Where would we need to improve?  This woman is great, but she was a sinner, there is no doubt about it: she had had five husbands, she was living in an illicit relationship with another man, and she believed in false religion.  Samaritans were sort of semi-pagans; some of them worshipped other gods.  They sort of worshipped God as the Jews understood, but then they mixed in some of the pagan things that happened that God had warned them against, and some of the Jews didn’t take heed and so there was sort of a mixture, an amalgam of the true religion mixed together with the false.  We can see that in other areas of the world, too, where animism mixes with Christianity, because people want to hedge their bets, I guess, and believe in all.  So this woman was not a true believer, and she was not living a moral life. 

 

But there was a greatness in her soul, because as God revealed Himself to her, slowly, there was awakened in her a great thirst, and a great and a brutal honesty.  She was honest.  Not just that she told the truth to Jesus, but that when she heard the truth, she accepted it.   Not the truth that He was Messiah.  That truth, as important as it is, is less important than the fact that she had to accept what Christ said about her.  She had to accept that Christ had the right to tell her things and to and to look into her soul.  

 

Many people proclaim Jesus as the Christ, and that truth doesn’t save them.  When we accept Jesus as the Christ in our hearts, when we accept that He has rights to tell us how to live, then we are on the road to salvation.  Our life is full of many, many moments, when God tries to reach out and touch us.  Many of these moments we have missed, sometimes because we have other things to do, other priorities.  Sometimes because we are just bouncing around with that narcotic kind of wave of life, we don’t listen and don’t hear. God is only heard in that still, small voice, as Elias heard.  He had to be still and quiet before he could hear.  And so must we. 

 

So this woman is in the whole bustle of life.   She is going in the heat of the day, about noontime to get water, and Christ is by himself at the well.  And he engages her in conversation, which was amazing to her.  Not only is she a woman – it was not usual for a man to engage a strange woman in conversation – but she was a Samaritan.  He was clearly a Jew, the Jews clearly hated Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual.  Why in the world would this man be talking to her?  But He awakened in her a thirst, and this thirst is what saved her soul.    And He cleansed the unclean life that she was leading, and the unclean belief she had had all her life, and the arguments, and the hatred that she had toward the Jews, and everything else, because He touched her. 

 

This conversation is long.  It gets recounted in a few words, but it probably took quite some time, because there is certainly more that went on.  This conversation is sort of our life in microcosm.  And if you break off a conversation, you do not receive the full benefit of it.  This is what I really want to tell you today. 

 

This woman pursued the conversation.  This woman pursued the conversation.  Jesus said, "Give me to drink."  She said, "Sir, why would you want to talk to me?"  And then He brings in the idea of water, living water, and the woman begins to pursue after this idea, first carnally.  She only understood it in terms of water that "I don’t have to thirst for, I don’t have to carry my water pot anymore, water that doesn’t go bad.  This is a wonderful thing.  How can this man help me?  Maybe he is a magician, maybe he is a sorcerer."  She pursued, and he pursued, and she became a flame.  She started to understand things – only in a figure, only a little bit – but that’s because the conversation continued.  She desired this water greatly.  And what is this water?  The living water that Christ talks about.  Not from a spring, nor from a river, it is the Holy Spirit that God wells up in a man.  This is what Christ is promising to the woman, but she doesn’t understand yet. 

 

But this woman had another difficulty besides an incorrect understanding of God.  She was living in sins, and they were dulling her intellect.  Indeed she had quite a bright intellect, because eventually she became St. Photini, equal to the apostles, and a martyr.  And you can see even in the end of this reading she became an apostle, for she evangelized the entire town.  Now this is a woman that was probably of some notoriety in this town.  Because even among the Samaritans, what she was doing was not acceptable.  And yet she evangelized the whole town.  She must have been aflame with the knowledge of Christ at this point, and she communicated it because she believed it.  But she had to stop thinking carnally, and start thinking spiritually, and in order for that to happen Christ had to show her what was wrong with her life. 

 

So he skillfully turns the conversation to her by asking an innocuous question, an innocent question.  "Go, call thy husband."  "I don’t have a husband."  "Thou hast spoken truly.  Thou hadst had five husbands, and the one that thou hast now is not your husband." Now with the vast majority of people in the world, the conversation would have ended there.  She would have come irate: how dares He?  She would have stomped off, or become belligerent in the conversation, and what God wanted to give her wouldn’t have been given.  She would have cut if off right there.  And I daresay all of us in this room should consider how we would react to the revelation of our sins in this manner.

 

Indeed I daresay, that we do react in this manner.  We cut off our conversation with God.  The conversation that is sweet, the conversation of Christ with the soul, but because we do not continue to ask questions, we do not continue to listen to the Master.  We have our own priorities, our things we do.  We don’t say our prayers very often, we don’t come to church, except haphazardly.  We don’t commune or confess very often.  These are all parts of the conversation. 

 

And you don’t even know what you’ve missed.  If this woman had become angry because of what Christ said, or maybe become disinterested in the very beginning, saying, "Oh, I don’t really want to talk to a Jew today.  I’ve had a hard time.  I’m tired.  I just want to get home, and I want to begin the rest of my household duties."  Or at any other point in the conversation, if she had cut it off, she would not have found out about the living water, and she wouldn’t have known.  It wouldn’t have been a tragedy in her life right then.  She would not have known.  It would not have occurred to her that she had God before her, and she had sinned.  She wouldn’t have noticed it.  She would have gone on with her life, and lived and died.  And never known what she’d miss.  What a tragedy! 

 

This is what happens to us, too.  God wants to shed grace upon us abundantly, yet we cut off the conversation.  We don’t even know what it is that He wants to give us.  We are dull-witted because we do not sharpen our senses with the sword of the Holy Spirit that cuts to the marrow, tells us who we really are, and what we ‘re really like – not the vision that we give to other people, or even that we give to ourselves – but what we’re really like.  And then God reveals Who He really is.  It has to be deep within the soul that He reveals this, and it is only in a protracted and intimate and intense conversation that this can occur.  That’s where the Holy Spirit reveals himself to a man, when we are intense, when we are fixed.   One can easily imagine in this conversation that the woman was intense.  She must have been gazing upon Christ with both eyes, listening to His every word, interpreting, asking questions, making many mistakes and many false assumptions, but every single thing He said drew her on.  You can bet that she did not pay attention to the weather or that she was hot.  She forgot her waterpot when she went away – what need did she have for the waterpot when He was promising living water? 

 

This intense conversation is what we must have, and what we so seldom do, because we have our own priorities. Sometimes not even our own priorities.  We just seem to be so unpracticed at the ways of piety.  We say our prayers so infrequently, and such a small amount.  We watch ten times more television than we pray. We read things that are either unholy or useless, rather than the Holy Scriptures.  We say we don’t have time for this, or the drive is too long, or da-da-da-da-da-da.  And we don’t even know what we missed. 

 

I’ve learned something.  I’ll tell you a secret about myself that I’m continually finding out.  Sometimes I get demoralized.  It’s a weakness of my character.  And a day seems like just another day to me, and I’ve got duties to perform, and I’m going to perform them to the best of my ability.  I’m going to try to pray.  I’m going to try to do what I can, but the spark of zeal, of the expectation of visitation by God, is missing.  And this often happens to me on Sunday, struggling with this demon of despondency.  And then something happens during the course of that day – someone I meet, something someone says, a place where I am where God uses my poor self in my ministry as a priest to affect a human soul.  It often happens at the end of the day.  But I could have missed it, and indeed I don’t know the days that I have missed, because I can’t tell you about those days, when I wasn’t open to what God wanted me to do.  I can’t tell you about the missed opportunities, except to believe that they happened.  Many times this has happened to me, countless times, hundreds of times it has happened.  It must have happened also hundreds of times – God forgive us – God forgive me and God forgive you because I’m positive it’s happening to you today, where you’ve missed the opportunities for God’s grace. 

 

You must continue the intensity of the conversation.  You must continue gazing at Christ and asking Him.  He told you to ask Him for everything.  But implicit in that command is that you must accept His answers, and ask Him for more answers.  This woman is great among the saints because she was intense and was willing to accept what God would tell her.  We don’t do that.  We don’t like to be told much about ourselves.  I’ve encountered this countless times myself also.  People do not like to know what’s really wrong with them.  They get very, very prickly when things are too exposed.  And unfortunately I am sometimes the agent of the exposing, so I can see it first hand.  I see myself as in a mirror when I see this occur, because I don’t like to be exposed either. But this conversation that Christ had with the Samaritan woman took time.  Gradually her sins were exposed to her.  When it was time for Christ to show her that He absolutely knew all about her, she was ready to accept it.  But that was only because of the effort that she had put into the conversation up to that point.  We must put effort into this conversation. 

 

This is the only thing that is important in our lives – the dialogue of Christ with our soul.  Nothing else matters.  It is why we were born.  It is why God has given us life, so that we could have intimate knowledge of Him.  Intimate knowledge happens in a quiet, intense conversation of God with the soul, through everything we do in our life.  When you make bad decisions, when you are lazy, when you don’t come to church, when you don’t say your prayers, when you decide to eat some nibble of food that is not fasting, all these things are breaking the conversation.  And you know how it is when you are distracted in a conversation.  Let’s say you are having a conversation with someone and the radio or the television is on in the background, you get distracted.  "Oh, yes, what did you say?"  You don’t make much headway in it.  There’s not much revelation in it.  This is the way we are.  It is lamentable, and sad, but it is the way we are. 

 

What a glorious thing it is for Christ to speak with the soul.  What a glorious thing it is to be promised living water, never to be thirsty again.  Never to be sad.  Never to be hungry.  Not to have anything wrong with us. No wounds.  No incompleteness.  No imperfections.  No longer pain and longing.  This is what He promises us.  It is only realizable, though, if we are participating with Him, as He reveals Himself and reveals to us ourselves as we live our life.  It is only possible if we continually participate.  I harp again and again about consistency.  Saying your prayers consistently, keeping the fast consistently, coming to the services consistently.  Not haphazardly.  Not just most Sundays, not just some Saturdays.  All of them.  The reason I say this is because deeply imbedded in the mind of the church is the reality of this conversation between Jesus Christ and St. Photini.  It is the conversation of God with the soul and it happens every day and every single word, every nuance is critical.  None can be missed. 

 

I cannot tell you how many of these words or nuances you can miss and still be saved.  It is unknown, but not many.  This is why I speak about all these things in terms of the externals of our life.  The externals are critical so that God can speak.  Otherwise we are too distracted.  So I tell you boldly, when you don’t want to say your prayers, or when you don’t feel like coming to church, or when you’re bored in church and leave early or when you have some other thing to do, it’s not only boredom.  It’s not that your feet hurt or your back hurts.  It’s not that you have some other duty that overrides what you should be doing in church, or prayer at home, or keeping the fast.  It’s not those reasons that you might think it is.  It’s purely and simply because if this conversation is broken you will make no progress.  So Satan does what he can to break the conversation.  And we are too willing to allow the distractions to occur in our life. 

 

God wants to give us so much.  I think this conversation between this Samaritan woman and Christ is a great promise.  He accepted her where she was, with all of her sins, and all of her false opinions, and she was willing to continue to listen, and He brought her to where she needed to be. It is the same with all of us. 

 

Now she said she had five husbands.  Five dead husbands.  But she had another who was not her husband.  We indeed also have husbands.  Unfortunately they are not dead.  We have distractions, and we have false priorities and other things that cause us to commit adultery against our true spouse, our lord Jesus Christ.  Let those husbands die.  And let us be faithful, true to the bridegroom.  May God help you to continue the conversation.  To the end of your life, not omitting one detail.  God will enlighten you if you continue this conversation.  Absolutely certain, there is great news today.  Continue with the conversation.  God will enlighten you.  Glorious news this is.  Amen.

 

John 4:5-42

 

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. {6} Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. {7} There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. {8} (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) {9} Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. {10} Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. {11} The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? {12} Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? {13} Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: {14} But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. {15} The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. {16} Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. {17} The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: {18} For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. {19} The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. {20} Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. {21} Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. {23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. {25} The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. {26} Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. {27} And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? {28} The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, {29} Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? {30} Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. {31} In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. {32} But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. {33} Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? {34} Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. {35} Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. {36} And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. {37} And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. {38} I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. {39} And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. {40} So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. {41} And many more believed because of his own word; {42} And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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The Samaritan Woman, Equal to the Apostles, St Photina.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

 

Feast is this Sunday,

the fifth Sunday of Pascha.

 

Questions & Answers.

http://www.orthodox.net/questions/samaritan_woman_1.html

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7th Sun of Pascha 2008 – What is heaven? >John 17:1-13

Monday, June 9th, 2008

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John 17:1-13 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.



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6th sun of Pascha – The Blind Man – It really is about character too.

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

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John 9:1-38And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clayp, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. 13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.



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5th Sunday of Pascha, 2008, The Samaritan Woman. "She left her waterpot."

Monday, May 26th, 2008

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John 4:5-42Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with [his] journey, sat thus on the well: [and] it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am [he]. 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? 28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him [ought] to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and [then] cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. 39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.



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Fifth Sunday of Pascha, Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

The Conversation of Christ with the soul

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-sunday-05_1999+the-samaritan-woman.html

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!

Today we are privileged to witness a holy conversation. This conversation is not just between Christ and a woman. It is between Christ and the soul. This is what we are privileged to see: God opening a window for us to look through, to see how the soul reacts, how it grows, how it learns, and how He enlightens it. The fathers understand this to be the conversation of Christ with the soul. Now he continues the theme of enlightenment that permeates all the services between Pascha and Pentecost, because the resurrection enlightens us, the resurrection vivifies; the resurrection gives us all that we need to know God.

Now we’re waiting upon the Holy Spirit, and as good and faithful disciples, we should be more zealous at this time of year than at any other time. Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite, as the years go by. This is the least zealous time for Christians, but it is the most important time. I guess that’s why people are so haphazard at this time of year: because it’s so important. In many ways, this time is even more important than Great Lent. This is the time for your blessing. God wants to enlighten you. God wants to show you so many things. This period of time is very holy. Unfortunately it is also one of the most ignored times of the year, an ignored holy time of the year.

Christ is showing us, the church is enlightening us about how we are to live, what the resurrection means. We already know so much about what we should do and why we should do it, and the dos and the don’ts. What we need as human beings is the sure certainty that we can do things, that we can change and the enlightenment of the revelation of God in the human soul. This comes about because of the resurrection, these two things: certainty that we can change, and the revelation of God in the human heart. This is what Christianity is, and this is what we are being shown today. This is a holy thing, to be able to observe, to eavesdrop upon this conversation of Christ with the soul.

Now, as it is in many, many passages of scripture, most of them, we should put ourselves in this situation. We should consider ourselves as the Samaritan Woman at this point, and wonder how we would react. Where would we need to improve? This woman is great, but she was a sinner, there is no doubt about it: she had had five husbands, she was living in an illicit relationship with another man, and she believed in false religion. Samaritans were sort of semi-pagans; some of them worshipped other gods. They sort of worshipped God as the Jews understood, but then they mixed in some of the pagan things that happened that God had warned them against, and some of the Jews didn’t take heed and so there was sort of a mixture, an amalgam of the true religion mixed together with the false. We can see that in other areas of the world, too, where animism mixes with Christianity, because people want to hedge their bets, I guess, and believe in all. So this woman was not a true believer, and she was not living a moral life.

But there was a greatness in her soul, because as God revealed Himself to her, slowly, there was awakened in her a great thirst, and a great and a brutal honesty. She was honest . Not just that she told the truth to Jesus, but that when she heard the truth, she accepted it. Not the truth that He was Messiah. That truth, as important as it is, is less important than the fact that she had to accept what Christ said about her. She had to accept that Christ had the right to tell her things and to and to look into her soul.

Many people proclaim Jesus as the Christ, and that truth doesn’t save them. When we accept Jesus as the Christ in our hearts, when we accept that He has rights to tell us how to live, then we are on the road to salvation. Our life is full of many, many moments, when God tries to reach out and touch us. Many of these moments we have missed, sometimes because we have other things to do, other priorities. Sometimes because we are just bouncing around with that narcotic kind of wave of life, we don’t listen and don’t hear. God is only heard in that still, small voice, as Elias heard. He had to be still and quiet before he could hear. And so must we.

So this woman is in the whole bustle of life. She is going in the heat of the day, about noontime to get water, and Christ is by himself at the well. And he engages her in conversation, which was amazing to her. Not only is she a woman – it was not usual for a man to engage a strange woman in conversation – but she was a Samaritan. He was clearly a Jew, the Jews clearly hated Samaritans, and the feeling was mutual. Why in the world would this man be talking to her? But He awakened in her a thirst, and this thirst is what saved her soul. And He cleansed the unclean life that she was leading, and the unclean belief she had had all her life, and the arguments, and the hatred that she had toward the Jews, and everything else, because He touched her.

This conversation is long. It gets recounted in a few words, but it probably took quite some time, because there is certainly more that went on. This conversation is sort of our life in microcosm. And if you break off a conversation, you do not receive the full benefit of it. This is what I really want to tell you today.

This woman pursued the conversation. This woman pursued the conversation. Jesus said, “Give me to drink.” She said, “Sir, why would you want to talk to me?” And then He brings in the idea of water, living water, and the woman begins to pursue after this idea, first carnally. She only understood it in terms of water that “I don’t have to thirst for, I don’t have to carry my water pot anymore, water that doesn’t go bad. This is a wonderful thing. How can this man help me? Maybe he is a magician, maybe he is a sorcerer.” She pursued, and he pursued, and she became a flame. She started to understand things – only in a figure, only a little bit – but that’s because the conversation continued . She desired this water greatly. And what is this water? The living water that Christ talks about. Not from a spring, nor from a river, it is the Holy Spirit that God wells up in a man. This is what Christ is promising to the woman, but she doesn’t understand yet.

But this woman had another difficulty besides an incorrect understanding of God. She was living in sins, and they were dulling her intellect. Indeed she had quite a bright intellect, because eventually she became St. Photini, equal to the apostles, and a martyr. And you can see even in the end of this reading she became an apostle, for she evangelized the entire town. Now this is a woman that was probably of some notoriety in this town. Because even among the Samaritans, what she was doing was not acceptable. And yet she evangelized the whole town. She must have been aflame with the knowledge of Christ at this point, and she communicated it because she believed it. But she had to stop thinking carnally, and start thinking spiritually, and in order for that to happen Christ had to show her what was wrong with her life.

So he skillfully turns the conversation to her by asking an innocuous question, an innocent question. “Go, call thy husband.” “I don’t have a husband.” “Thou hast spoken truly. Thou hadst had five husbands, and the one that thou hast now is not your husband.” Now with the vast majority of people in the world, the conversation would have ended there. She would have come irate: how dares He? She would have stomped off, or become belligerent in the conversation, and what God wanted to give her wouldn’t have been given. She would have cut if off right there. And I daresay all of us in this room should consider how we would react to the revelation of our sins in this manner.

Indeed I daresay, that we do react in this manner. We cut off our conversation with God. The conversation that is sweet, the conversation of Christ with the soul, but because we do not continue to ask questions, we do not continue to listen to the Master. We have our own priorities, our things we do. We don’t say our prayers very often, we don’t come to church, except haphazardly. We don’t commune or confess very often. These are all parts of the conversation.

And you don’t even know what you’ve missed. If this woman had become angry because of what Christ said, or maybe become disinterested in the very beginning, saying, “Oh, I don’t really want to talk to a Jew today. I’ve had a hard time. I’m tired. I just want to get home, and I want to begin the rest of my household duties.” Or at any other point in the conversation, if she had cut it off, she would not have found out about the living water, and she wouldn’t have known. It wouldn’t have been a tragedy in her life right then. She would not have known. It would not have occurred to her that she had God before her, and she had sinned. She wouldn’t have noticed it. She would have gone on with her life, and lived and died. And never known what she’d miss. What a tragedy!

This is what happens to us, too. God wants to shed grace upon us abundantly, yet we cut off the conversation. We don’t even know what it is that He wants to give us. We are dull-witted because we do not sharpen our senses with the sword of the Holy Spirit that cuts to the marrow, tells us who we really are, and what we ‘re really like – not the vision that we give to other people, or even that we give to ourselves – but what we’re really like. And then God reveals Who He really is. It has to be deep within the soul that He reveals this, and it is only in a protracted and intimate and intense conversation that this can occur. That’s where the Holy Spirit reveals himself to a man, when we are intense, when we are fixed. One can easily imagine in this conversation that the woman was intense. She must have been gazing upon Christ with both eyes, listening to His every word, interpreting, asking questions, making many mistakes and many false assumptions, but every single thing He said drew her on. You can bet that she did not pay attention to the weather or that she was hot. She forgot her waterpot when she went away – what need did she have for the waterpot when He was promising living water?

This intense conversation is what we must have, and what we so seldom do, because we have our own priorities. Sometimes not even our own priorities. We just seem to be so unpracticed at the ways of piety. We say our prayers so infrequently, and such a small amount. We watch ten times more television than we pray. We read things that are either unholy or useless, rather than the Holy Scriptures. We say we don’t have time for this, or the drive is too long, or da-da-da-da-da-da. And we don’t even know what we missed.

I’ve learned something. I’ll tell you a secret about myself that I’m continually finding out. Sometimes I get demoralized. It’s a weakness of my character. And a day seems like just another day to me, and I’ve got duties to perform, and I’m going to perform them to the best of my ability. I’m going to try to pray. I’m going to try to do what I can, but the spark of zeal, of the expectation of visitation by God, is missing. And this often happens to me on Sunday, struggling with this demon of despondency. And then something happens during the course of that day – someone I meet, something someone says, a place where I am where God uses my poor self in my ministry as a priest to affect a human soul. It often happens at the end of the day. But I could have missed it, and indeed I don’t know the days that I have missed, because I can’t tell you about those days, when I wasn’t open to what God wanted me to do. I can’t tell you about the missed opportunities, except to believe that they happened. Many times this has happened to me, countless times, hundreds of times it has happened. It must have happened also hundreds of times – God forgive us – God forgive me and God forgive you because I’m positive it’s happening to you today, where you’ve missed the opportunities for God’s grace.

You must continue the intensity of the conversation. You must continue gazing at Christ and asking Him. He told you to ask Him for everything. But implicit in that command is that you must accept His answers, and ask Him for more answers. This woman is great among the saints because she was intense and was willing to accept what God would tell her. We don’t do that. We don’t like to be told much about ourselves. I’ve encountered this countless times myself also. People do not like to know what’s really wrong with them. They get very, very prickly when things are too exposed. And unfortunately I am sometimes the agent of the exposing, so I can see it first hand. I see myself as in a mirror when I see this occur, because I don’t like to be exposed either. But this conversation that Christ had with the Samaritan woman took time. Gradually her sins were exposed to her. When it was time for Christ to show her that He absolutely knew all about her, she was ready to accept it. But that was only because of the effort that she had put into the conversation up to that point. We must put effort into this conversation.

This is the only thing that is important in our lives – the dialogue of Christ with our soul. Nothing else matters. It is why we were born. It is why God has given us life, so that we could have intimate knowledge of Him. Intimate knowledge happens in a quiet, intense conversation of God with the soul, through everything we do in our life. When you make bad decisions, when you are lazy, when you don’t come to church, when you don’t say your prayers, when you decide to eat some nibble of food that is not fasting, all these things are breaking the conversation. And you know how it is when you are distracted in a conversation. Let’s say you are having a conversation with someone and the radio or the television is on in the background, you get distracted. “Oh, yes, what did you say?” You don’t make much headway in it. There’s not much revelation in it. This is the way we are. It is lamentable, and sad, but it is the way we are.

What a glorious thing it is for Christ to speak with the soul. What a glorious thing it is to be promised living water, never to be thirsty again. Never to be sad. Never to be hungry. Not to have anything wrong with us. No wounds. No incompleteness. No imperfections. No longer pain and longing. This is what He promises us. It is only realizable, though, if we are participating with Him, as He reveals Himself and reveals to us ourselves as we live our life. It is only possible if we continually participate. I harp again and again about consistency. Saying your prayers consistently, keeping the fast consistently, coming to the services consistently. Not haphazardly. Not just most Sundays, not just some Saturdays. All of them. The reason I say this is because deeply imbedded in the mind of the church is the reality of this conversation between Jesus Christ and St. Photini. It is the conversation of God with the soul and it happens every day and every single word, every nuance is critical. None can be missed.

I cannot tell you how many of these words or nuances you can miss and still be saved. It is unknown, but not many. This is why I speak about all these things in terms of the externals of our life. The externals are critical so that God can speak. Otherwise we are too distracted. So I tell you boldly, when you don’t want to say your prayers, or when you don’t feel like coming to church, or when you’re bored in church and leave early or when you have some other thing to do, it’s not only boredom. It’s not that your feet hurt or your back hurts. It’s not that you have some other duty that overrides what you should be doing in church, or prayer at home, or keeping the fast. It’s not those reasons that you might think it is. It’s purely and simply because if this conversation is broken you will make no progress. So Satan does what he can to break the conversation. And we are too willing to allow the distractions to occur in our life.

God wants to give us so much. I think this conversation between this Samaritan woman and Christ is a great promise. He accepted her where she was, with all of her sins, and all of her false opinions, and she was willing to continue to listen, and He brought her to where she needed to be. It is the same with all of us.

Now she said she had five husbands. Five dead husbands. But she had another who was not her husband. We indeed also have husbands. Unfortunately they are not dead. We have distractions, and we have false priorities and other things that cause us to commit adultery against our true spouse, our lord Jesus Christ. Let those husbands die. And let us be faithful, true to the bridegroom. May God help you to continue the conversation. To the end of your life, not omitting one detail. God will enlighten you if you continue this conversation. Absolutely certain, there is great news today. Continue with the conversation. God will enlighten you. Glorious news this is. Amen.

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