Archive for the ‘5th Sunday of Pascha – Samaritan Woman’ Category

A feastday for all us Samaritans. Do you hear the conversation? Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, John 4:5-42

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

the Woman at the Well

Synopsis: The conversation and conversion of the Samaritan woman by the well, recorded only in John, is the conversation of Christ with the soul. This is good news for us, as the future Equal to the Apostles Photini (Svetlana) was not a good woman – she had many sins – and we are not good either, however, she listened to the Lord, even as He sternly corrected her false beliefs and immoral lifestyle. The same conversation is happening to us, every day. Are you listening? Do you know how to listen? St Photini teaches us.


More homilies on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman are HERE

John 4:5-42 5 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.

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She left her waterpot! The extreme humility and faith of the Samaritan Woman.

Monday, May 14th, 2012


Synopsis: The story of the woman at the well, St Photini (Svetlana) has an enormous amount of deep and important theology, but the most important part is the personality of the Samaritan woman must be understood an emulated to understand any of it. She was very humble; when the Lord exposed her sin, she stayede with Him to hear more. When she understood Him, she left her waterpot. We esplore these two actions. She was an extremist. We cannot be saved unless we are too.

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5th Sunday of Pascha – The Samaritan Woman. Literacy, thirst, humility. zeal.

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

5th Sunday of Pascha – The Samaritan Woman. We MUST be theologically literate, having thirst for righteousness, humility, and zeal to be saved. John 4:5-42

5th Sunday of Pascha – The Samaritan Woman

We MUST be theologically literate, having thirst for righteousness, humility, and zeal to be saved

John 4:5-42


(More Homilies on the Samaritan Woman are here:



The Samaritan woman at the well. the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Brothers and sisters, this story about the conversion  of the Samaritan Woman is also in line with all of the  Gospels of this Paschal period about enlightenment.  We can speak of many things concerning it. Since it is a historical event, there are practical things that happened that we can glean from the way the Lord talked to her and the reactions of this woman who has a name, Photini, Svetlana, Equal to the Apostles.

And also, it has a wealth of theology in it, and also, a lot of mystical theology in it as well. And, as it should be all Scripture for us, there should be a practical application, something that touches us. My meaning might be different than yours. I’m speaking of where certain things touch us in a certain way. That’s the way the Scriptures should be for all of us.


Now, this only happens if you read the Scripture often. If you don’t read the Scripture very often, then it’s not going to touch you very often because it’s complicated. This story is extremely complicated. The theology spoken of here is very complex. So if we only read the Scripture occasionally, then the full nuance of the story will not reach our hearts.


This woman was theologically literate. Oh, she was incorrect in her theology because she was a Samaritan. The Samaritans only accepted the five books, the Pentateuch of Moses. They had little to say about the prophets, didn’t like them very much, and they had mixed in some pagan practices. So the Jews hated them. So her theology was not all correct, but she was theologically literate, as you can see from the story, when she asked the Lord intelligent questions based upon her theological world view.


I think we can learn many things from the story, but the most important one, the essence of the story is: how can we obtain the Living Water? Because the focus of the story is our obtaining Living Water, which the Lord offers to her, and of course Living Water is the Holy Spirit.


How does one obtain it? The actions of Saint Photini show us how you obtain the Living Water, and her actions were very nuanced, very beautiful. Let’s go over her personality because her personality must be inculcated in our personality.


Her errors are probably a lot like our errors. But are our virtues like her virtues? She was theologically literate. She knew the Scriptures. She could ask intelligent questions. So when the Lord had a theological discussion with her, she understood. And as her understanding increased, as the Lord gently brought her along, she had the vocabulary, the background, so that she could understand what He was saying and not merely just be offended when He said, ‘salvation is from the Jews.’ She wasn’t a Jew, but she can understand why He would be saying that. And with the grace of God present, her mind was changed. But if she didn’t have a mind to change, she wouldn’t be changed. If she didn’t have some understanding already, then this conversation would have not meant anything to her. So we must have theological understanding, brothers and sisters.


I tell you, this is a difficult Scripture for a pastor to preach about because it’s very complex, very nuanced. There are many roads to go down, and some of them would be unintelligible to most of you and not profitable to you because you don’t read the Scripture enough, because you don’t come to the Services and hear the Scriptures expounded enough.


Last night we covered it. These Scriptures were covered. The Samaritan Woman, the Living Water, was covered over and over again in the vigil service. This is the kind of thing you need. You might not think you need it. You might not feel the loss, but you are poorer if you do not have theological understanding. The Lord said it Himself, and He said it in many other places, but today He said it: You must worship God in spirit and in truth.


There must be a truth but then you must inculcate it into your spirit. If you don’t know who God is, then you can’t follow Him. It’s important to know that God is Trinity, that Jesus Christ is God and man, that He was born of a Virgin, that He is perfectly God and perfectly man, having two natures that are not mixed together but exist cooperatively in the same person. And having two natures, He has two wills. And His human will, He completely, of His own, subjugated to the Divine will.


The Samaritan woman at the well things are important to know because they apply to us. If they are just static pieces of information that are a little hard to understand, then you’re not reading enough, you’re not praying enough, you’re not struggling enough. So even if you don’t have a perfect understanding, you can become perfected. God will work with what you know. If you don’t know anything, there’s not much to work with. So I’ll tell you, many of you are very much poorer because you didn’t hear the beautiful theology last night that told us so many truths, restated over and over in poetic ways, about the Resurrection, about the Living Water, about the Samaritan Woman.


So, brothers and sisters, there is no substitute for being theologically literate. Christianity is not for people who are not intelligent. I’m not speaking about whether you know reading, writing and arithmetic. I’m not talking about that kind of intelligence. I’m speaking about spiritual intelligence. What should be important to you is to know the things of God.


It was important to her. She didn’t know all the truth, but what she did know she knew well. And so when God presented the truth to her, she could understand it.

So go home, take a look at your Bible. Does it have any dust on it? It shouldn’t. Consider what your priorities are. Do you pray? Do you fast? Yes, fasting is part of learning theology, too. What are your priorities? What’s the most important thing for you today and tomorrow and the next day? Well, it should be to learn about the One Who is meek and lowly of heart, to take His yoke upon us. That should be the most important thing.

He’s not a stranger. There’s much that we can know about Jesus. He spoke of it Himself. The prophets spoke about Him, and the fathers after them. It’s all out there for us to know. And I tell you, there’s a principle, a human principle, that you must hear something many times to understand it. It’s very easy to learn one plus one equals two. That’s a simple fact. But to learn that God became man, you cannot speak of it enough, because the only way to really understand it is to live it. That means reading about it. That means praying about it, listening to the hymns about it, reading the Psalter, because every page of the Psalter speaks about Christ. Every page of the Old Testament speaks about Christ. And all this reading and praying and fasting and struggle must help you inculcate the Incarnation in the way you live.

This woman had a good foundation. When the Lord revealed to her the truth, she could understand it. And we could see practical things about her personality that we must also possess. She was a good woman living in a bad situation. She was living with a man. She had had five husbands before. I guess the saying is, there was a lot of mileage on her. Definitely hadn’t had a perfect life. She was going to the well late in the day when it’s hot. Everybody else would go in the morning. She went at noon. Why? Because she didn’t want to be around other people because of her shame.


Here’s one of those personal applications of Scripture. Perhaps this doesn’t mean as much to you as to me, that’s okay. Hopefully there’s something else in the story that really touches you, really makes you want to change or maybe gives you hope that you will change, and have confidence that you will change.


The woman went to the well at noon because of her shame. The Lord spoke to her about Living Water that cleanses away all shame. And then  – miracle of miracles – her heart was so changed that she didn’t care about her shame, and she went to her own people and became equal to the apostles and told them of the Messiah. A conversation of what? An hour or two, maybe? –  completely changed her. He life became completely different; There was no longer any shame but now hope, now joy, now understanding.


That’s what the Lord can do for each one of us. What a wonderful thing it is to have our shame taken away by the Living Water. But it’s not going to happen unless we’re like her. And we have already spoken of her theological understanding. And if you don’t have it, you’d better get it, and you’re not going to get it by sitting at home, and you’re not going to get it by being wherever you are on Saturday night instead of the vigil. You’re not going to get it unless you read and pray and study.

Look at her personality. She’s a woman of deep zeal, of interest in the theological things. When the Lord started to speak to her, she was interested. Can you see her in your mind’s eye sitting up and listening carefully, watching the Lord, eyes fixed on His, thinking that this is a holy moment? She didn’t know who He was yet. He was just a Jew who was lax, in her opinion, according to Saint John, because He was asking for water; the Jews shouldn’t even use the vessels of people that are considered unclean. But she was listening to Him with desire because she had thirst.


I tell you, the Lord offers Living Water to all of us, to the entire world, and a lot of people are not thirsty. If you’re not thirsty, you’re not going to want the Living Water. Now, everyone should be thirsty, but not everyone is. And even among Christians, there are different levels of thirst. If you desire with all your heart to be holy, God will help you to be holy. Most people don’t desire that. That’s why we live in such mediocre ways.


But this woman was thirsty. So when He offered her water, although it was something that sounded impossible because she was thinking of water; you drink water and later on you have to drink more. But He said you don’t have to drink anymore. You would never thirst again. It didn’t make any sense to her. But because of her desire, she continued to question Him and found out about this Living Water, that He was speaking of the Holy Spirit.


So we must have the desire. And I tell you, if you don’t have desire, you can gain desire if you want to have desire. More than once I have prayed and I have heard others ask, Lord, help me to have the desire to desire; help me to want to change.


Perhaps it is sometimes with a person that we have some trouble with and we want to forgive them, but there’s something in our heart that doesn’t let us. Of course it’s our sins; it’s our darkness. But the desire to forgive them is the beginning of forgiveness.


So she had desire. And so should we. And desire just doesn’t fall out of Heaven like manna. Desire comes to you from your effort. If you’re cold, then do something to become warm.


Saint John Climacos has this proverb that he says in The Ladder. He says, some people, when they begin to exercise, they do it slowly and their joints hurt, but after a little while of movement the joints warm up and they go faster. And he says, heed this proverbial word. What it means is: if you’re cold, do something to become warm. So you don’t love God, do something to love God. Pray, fast, come to the Services, read the Scriptures, even if they seem unintelligible to you. Struggle to be kind to the person that you don’t want to be kind to. Make small little steps, and eventually you’ll complete the whole journey.


Now, this woman was humble because the Lord, He showed her sins right to her. That’s why He said, call your husband. She answered “I don’t have a husband.” She was honest but sort of partially honest, right? There was something she didn’t say because she was ashamed. So she didn’t lie, but she didn’t tell the whole story. But the Lord knows it all. He says, “you have had five husbands, and the one you’re with now is not your husband, and this you spoke truly.”

Now, how did she react to this? I think what happened in her heart was there was this little glimmer of warmth thinking: ‘Maybe I can finally be delivered from my shame; maybe I can be rid of this sort of up and down in my life and stop coming to the well at noon because of my shame; maybe I can change; if this man knows this about me, maybe he can help me in some way.’ She didn’t know he was God so from her perspective, she said “I perceive you are a prophet.” She was correct, He is a prophet.


The Samaritan woman at the well you feel in her heart this little desire, this little feeling that “I can be changed?” You should feel that every day, you know, just like she did. Every day you should think: God can change me. The things that I am now I won’t be later. The things that I am not now I will be. The things that I cannot do, God will help me to do. The darkness that is in me will become light. Not today maybe but certainly tomorrow.


She had the feeling in her heart. This was holy, divine moment because this was a time in which she could be either offended with the Lord and go her way, thinking He’s just like everybody else, judging me. Or she could look into His eyes and see that He held the key to life.


And then the rest of the conversation continued. She learned, He’s more than a prophet. He’s the messiah. And then what did she want to do? The first thing she thought of was her own people, most of whom probably judged her, castigated her. All she wanted to do was run to her own

people and tell them: This is the Messiah, we’ve found Him.


So we’ve got to be like her too, share the Messiah with others. But you can’t share what you don’t have, brothers and sisters. If you don’t have that hope in your heart to become better, you can’t share it with others. You’ve got to feel it in your heart.


I tell you, look in your heart. If you don’t feel it, don’t despair, but do something about feeling it. There’s practical things you can do, I’ve told you, to pray, come to church even when it’s boring, even when you don’t feel like it, fast when you don’t feel like it. But it’s more profound than all of that. Those are just the sort of the external things. I mean they are internal too, they should be internalized. But you must have desire to be different than you are today. You must not be satisfied with who you are.


I told you many times that I absolutely, this is truth, I want each one of you to feel the darkness in you, to feel that cold that’s in you. Because it’s there. You’re human. Therefore, it’s there. God came so that you’d become all light, and you’re not all light yet. God came so that you would be perfectly warm, but you’re not all warm yet. You know that. It’s the truth. You’ve got to feel it. This woman felt it. And that’s why she was listening to Him, because she felt how dark she was. When the Lord gave her light, she had enough background to understand what He was saying and the nobility of soul to accept it. That’s how we’ve got to be.

So this story, I’ve told you before, is the conversation of the Lord with the soul, and it is the Lord speaking to your soul every day. When the Lord reveals to you – and He does this all the time, that He knows you, and that He has a plan for you, that He wishes you to know Him intimately, and that despite whatever is in you, it can be fixed, there should be in your heart what happened to the Samaritan Woman’s heart, this feeling of I can be changed. And then go out and get this change. It’s not just going to happen to you. It’s going to happen because of desire and because of following through on who the Lord is, worshipping the Lord in spirit and in truth.


So brothers and sisters, the Samaritan woman, Saint Photini, is a luminous example of how to listen to God. It’s a whole process. It’s a whole life process. I beg of you, look within your heart and see the darkness and feel the cold, because if you don’t feel the cold and see the darkness, you won’t want to change it. You won’t know it’s there. And then do something about this cold and this darkness. Read, study, pray, fast. Order your life so that you would know the one thing that is needful. And that is: How to obtain this Living Water.


May God help you. Amen.



Priest Seraphim Holland 2010


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The Samaritan woman teaches us what we MUST do to receive the Living Water. Audio Homily 2010.

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

SYNOPSIS:The story of the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, Photini, must be understood in a historical, theological, mystical and practical context. She said "the well is deep", and this story can be discussed from many perspectives, many of which are, alas, unintelligible to most because of their low loevel of theological knowledge and interest. The most important one for us is what we must do do get the living water, the Holy Spirit. Saint Photini shows us several things that we MUST be if we are to be saved – theologically literate, having thirst for righteousness, humility, and zeal. Her conversation with the Lord and subsequent actions show all these things


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Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. Fifth Sunday Of Pascha. The conversation of Christ with the soul

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Samaritan woman at the well

Samaritan Woman at the well

The Samaritan Woman – Questions and answers

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Who was the Samaritan woman? Tell about her life after meeting Jesus?

Who were the Samaritans? Describe their religion and relationship with the Jews.

What time did Jesus meet the Samaritan woman at the well? Is there anything odd about this time? Why do you think she drew water at time?

What 2 revolutionary things did Jesus do by even talking to the Samaritan woman? The proud Pharisees would have judged Him on at least two accounts.


Water plays a big role in the story of the Samaritan woman. Cite at least 5 other places where water is used to describe or point to our salvation.

In this case, Christ said to 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." (John 4:13-14)

What is the meaning of "water" in this context?



There was a significant prophesy concerning salvation which Jesus made when He spoke to the Samaritan woman. What was it? Approximate when it was understood by the entire church to be fulfilled (or being fulfilled)?


The conversation between Christ and the Samaritan woman mystically is actually another conversation between what 2 parties?


Compare and contrast the reaction of the Samaritan woman and townspeople and the townspeople in the region of the Gadarenes when Jesus visited them.

The Samaritan Woman – 5th Sunday of Pascha – John 4:5-42. New Homily.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Samaritan Woman – 5th Sunday of Pascha – John 4:5-42

This well is very deep.

How to acquire the Holy Spirit.

The Lord puts Himself in our path.

Knowledge comes to us by degrees, a little bit at a time.



The Samaritan woman at the well.

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


Brothers and sisters, as the Samaritan woman said, “This well is very deep.” And there is much in the story; we could speak for days and not exhaust the story of the conversion of Saint Photini[1], Equal to the Apostles, the Samaritan Woman.

As in all scripture, it is good to see the part that is the most important. The story here is about how to obtain the Holy Spirit. And the Samaritan Woman did obtain the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is referred to sometimes as water, sometimes as fire. Because as water, it washes clean. As fire, it warms, and it burns away sin. In this case, the Lord referred to the Holy Spirit as Living Water.

And he met the Samaritan Woman where she was, going to the well when no one else was going at about noon, the sixth hour, because she had had five husbands and now was living with a man who was not her husband. So for her to go get water at the normal time, would subject her to ridicule. So she would sneak to the well at noon to get water. And the Lord knew this because the Lord knows all things.


The Lord puts Himself in our path.


We continually see in the Gospels where the Lord puts Himself in the path of someone who needs His help. The woman whose son had just died, the man left by the road half dead, the woman with an issue of blood. He made Himself to be present for them in their time of need.

This woman didn’t even know she had a need. She was getting by day-to-day and life was not easy for her. Anyone who goes to get water in the heat of the day obviously has some problems. Although she didn’t know what she needed, the Lord knew, and so He spoke to her on her level.

First He did something rather amazing for a Jew. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be like dogs and were very racist about them. And yet He spoke to her and said, “Give me to drink.”  – an amazing thing! She noted that, that: “The Jews don’t have anything to do with us, and You’re asking me to drink.” That was the beginning, so that they could have a conversation, so that she could learn about the Living Water.

Knowledge comes to us by degrees, a little bit at a time.


And of course I told you, the whole period of Pascha is speaking about enlightenment and how it occurs. Now, it’s different for different people.


For the myrrh-bearing women, they went to the tomb thinking they were going to anoint a dead man, not even knowing how the stone would be rolled away. But, because of their great love, they came.

Thomas couldn’t believe, but then he couldn’t go away either. He had too much love, too much yearning in his heart. So he received that which he didn’t even know that he desired, because he believed the one whom he though might be the Christ was dead.

The paralytic first was healed; then he knew that God was with him, and he knew that the cause of his illness had been his sins and that he was not to sin anymore or else a worse thing would befall him.

In every case, the common thread is that man, when presented with God, must react. We must listen. We must change because God is not some static thing, some fact which we can believe. God is life. So when we are presented with God, we must change.


And certainly in the case of the Samaritan Woman, the proper reaction to God is perhaps illustrated more than even all the rest.


Because this woman who was a sinner, who was basically an outcast in a society of outcasts, this woman, when she started to speak with Jesus and He told her bit by bit about the truth in words that she could partially understand, she had her view that was not correct. There are theological questions here that are interesting to look at, but they are a side issue. Suffice it to say that this woman like us had misconceptions; We have many misunderstandings, things we don’t know; and we don’t know that we don’t know them. But the Lord enlightened her.

Enlightenment does not complete until we change.


So the woman knew some things of the truth. He offered this Living Water, this tantalizing opportunity to not thirst again. He told her something of true worship, and then he told her to go call her husband. And she was ashamed; our services speak of it. She said, “I don’t have a husband.” That’s the truth, but not the whole truth, because she was ashamed to say what her true life circumstances were.


But the Lord gently told her, “Yes, you’ve had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband, and this you spoke truly.” So He praised her for being truthful and gently, kind of ignored that she wasn’t completely truthful. He didn’t legally upbraid her for it.

And what did she do? She said, “I perceive you are a prophet.” I am sure at this moment there was something in her heart that felt hope because she was living in a way she didn’t want to live, but she didn’t know how to get out of it. She was trapped. She lived a sinful life for many years, but she did believe she knew something of the law. She was a careful person; she asked intelligent questions, according to her level of understanding. She needed healing. And then when the Lord told her of her life, her heart must have felt this flicker of hope and warmth and maybe she could get relief.

Now, most people would not feel that. They instead would be angry that their sins had been shown. The Jews were like that, the Pharisees and Sadducees did not like when the Lord showed their hypocrisy. The people of the Gadarenes had been raising pigs unlawfully. Then the Lord removed this source of sin from them. And they knew that they had been sinning. What did they do? They were afraid but also angry, and they told the Lord to leave because they didn’t want their sins to be exposed.

The Samaritan Woman had her sin exposed. She was glad. In fact, she was so glad that she felt such relief, such hope in her heart, that she, the one who, as our services say, the Renowned One, went into the city and told everyone, “Here is a man who told me everything I did.”


Now, let’s be realistic here. If she tells someone that, they are going to say, Well, what did He tell you? So she would have to tell people of her sins in order to show that this man had told the truth about her. What nobility of soul! To be presented with your sins and to not be angry, but instead to be glad.

This is an amazing, amazing story. There aren’t many like it in the scriptures. This is how we must be. Yes, we know something of God. Okay. We know he’s Trinity. We know he’s born of a virgin. We know Jesus Christ is God and man. We know all these things. But do we live them? Have we become them?

The Lord said at one point to her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is who sayeth unto thee, give me to drink, thou would ask, and I would give you Living Water.” Do we know the gift of God? It is not possible to know the gift of God without becoming like God, without changing as God reveals himself to us. This is what the story tells us.

If we want to have the Holy Spirit abiding in us — and the Holy Spirit is life; without the Holy Spirit there is no life — To have the Holy Spirit abide in us, we must, when God reveals himself to us, change. Not slink back, not be angry, not hide ourselves from God, and not cause ourselves to be distracted by this and that in life. But we must be like the Samaritan Woman. This is what the story tells us. This is the way of life.


Because salvation is not just forgiveness.


How in the world did that idea come about? A person forgiven seventy times seven is still a sinner and still bears wounds of sin and still is incomplete and hurting.

Salvation is to become changed, to become holy. To become one who used to have five husbands and lives with someone who is not their husband, to someone who becomes equal to the apostles. And full of life and purpose. This is what salvation is. Is the changing of the soul, to be perfected. But it is only possible with our participation.


God reveals Himself to us; otherwise, we would not know him. We know this. This is a fundamental dogma of our faith. But as He reveals himself to us, if we do not reveal ourselves to Him, He will stop revealing Himself. And we’ll only know facts about him. But we won’t know about life. And we won’t have the water springing up in us, the Holy Spirit.


It is only possible to have the Holy Spirit if, when God reveals himself, we change. This is Christianity.


It is not just belief. It is not just our practices, although all of those things assist us. It is when you meet God, you listen and you change, and this is what this woman did.

This is why this story is so glorious. And this is what we must compare ourselves to. How much are we like this woman?


Well, if we are honest, we know we are like her in at least one way. We sin and we have misconceptions, misunderstandings, things we don’t know. We are entangled in things like she was entangled. So we are like her, yes, absolutely.

But when she met God, she reacted with joy. You know, she came to get water. And the apostle tells us she left her water pot to go into the city because she had found the Living Water. It’s a very significant detail, one of those little pearls in the scripture. I love to read that line: “The woman left her water pot.” This is not an incidental detail. She had found the way of life, and she was becoming truly alive.

We have been presented with the way of life. How is it then that we do so many things that are not the way of life? Because we have not met God as she has. Oh, God has presented Himself to us, just as He did to her: On our level, according to our understanding. But we have not reacted to Him as she did. She turned her life upside down. She changed completely.

She reminds me of Mary of Egypt, when Mary of Egypt saw that she had been a sinner and she made the promise to the Mother of God. From that point on her life was completely changed.

When we meet God, we must change. That is what I want you to learn from this story. If you are to have the Holy Spirit in you, you must listen to what God is telling us and change.

And God help you to listen and to change. Amen.


(Grateful acknowledgement to the handmaiden of God Helen for transcribing this homily.)


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


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[1] Photini, Russian: “Svetlana”, “light”