當耶穌離開猶太前往加利利途經撒瑪利亞，由於長途跋涉疲憊的坐在雅各井邊，那時將近第六時辰約莫中午的時候，門徒們前往市集購買食物，這時一位婦人特意選在中午的時候來到井邊汲水，避開與人們接觸。於是主便向她討水喝，其實這正是耶穌感召她的開始，日後也成為盛名的使徒芙妮蒂雅(Photine of Samaria)，Photine意為「光明」的意思。
聖芙蒂妮雅(Photine of Samaria)誠心領受主的恩典，慕道餘生至終以身殉道封聖，諸位如遇不遂，掛礙難行，不妨也可乞求聖者代禱。
聖芙蒂妮雅(Photine of Samaria)：
2014.05.18 Meeting Jesus – Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
John 4:5-42 At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do you wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him. … Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed Christ the Savior of the world.”
I will say a few words about the Gospel today, which is the famous meeting of between Jesus Christ and the Samaritan woman. Here it is very important that the Gospel says that Jesus had to pass through Samaria. It was not simply that he had to pass through there, but there was something ready to happen. So he went to the town to buy some food, so it would have been around noon and he was tired so he rested next to a well where there was water. Then a woman came from Samaria with a jug to take water back to the village. Many scholars ask why it was that the woman came so late since normally the women come from the village come much earlier because it is too hot later. And it may be that she was coming later in order to avoid others of the village because she was ashamed of her life, as we see later.
So we see now the marvelous way of Jesus Christ. He starts a conversation by saying, “Give me some water to drink.” This is the moment of calling an apostle because this Samaritan woman, later became an apostle called St Photini, which means light or bright. And many times, the calling of Jesus Christ starts from very simple things. Sometimes we come to the Church because something else has happened in our lives.
This woman was very surprised and perhaps a little bit impolite since she had not paid attention to Jesus, who was sitting by the well. Her surprise when He talked to her was very big because she said, “You are Jewish and you ask for water from me, a Samaritan woman. Don’t you know that we don’t talk to one another?” But Jesus was very humble and he saw her soul, he knew everything about her. He did not continue this argument, this impolite conversation, which was even a bit nationalistic since there was a strict separation between the Samaritans and the Jews.
But He started revealing Himself to her. He said, “If you knew who I was, who is asking you for water, you would ask me for the water that never stops.” The Samaritan woman became interested here. And many people come because to the Church because they feel unlucky or some difficult happened in their life. And you can see that on Easter there are many people who come to the service then, though on other times there are many fewer.
So the Samaritan woman asked if had some magic water and couldn’t He give her some so she would not need to come all the way from the village and go to so much water to carry the water. The woman did not understand what Jesus was saying. She cares only about getting something from somebody, perhaps a magician, who claimed that he had some power. Why does she not understand? It is not because she is not educated, but there is something in her life that prevents her from knowing Jesus Christ and understanding what He is saying to her. And this is her sinful life.
This is why Jesus, very gently, without accusing her of anything – we see here how gently and with so much love Jesus approaches a human being. He says to her, “Call your husband.” And the woman says something that is very terrible for someone like us who cares for others; it is shocking. She says, “I don’t have a husband.” We see now the big problem: She has no husband; she has no love; she failed in the most important thing in her life. She has no love. She does not say the whole truth, but she says the deep truth, that she failed in love and in honor. And Jesus says to her, “You say the truth because before you had five husbands and now you are living illegally with someone who is not your husband.” Now Jesus is directly revealing her secret wounds. Do you understand what it would have meant for a woman to have had five husbands and now a sixth man? This poor person; what remained of her heart after so many failures in love? He touches the problem, that she has had so many husbands – and obviously she has some sense of responsibility and is now living outside the law with another man – this is the problem preventing her from understanding Jesus Christ. And also the opposite it true: because she does not understand God, so she cannot make a loving and permanent relationship.
We see that suddenly after this revelation of her life the woman does not refuse Jesus; she absolutely accepts and she says that she now knows He is a prophet.
So simply, this understanding so simply gives forgiveness to her. We see here nothing but the infinite love of God. She understands that Jesus is not some kind of a magician, but a prophet. She now has the most important question: she wants to know about God.
So we see that even though she was a sinful person, even though she had a very wounded heard because of her failures in love and family, even so she loves God and she wants to know. So now that she knows he is a prophet, she asks Him where should she worship God since the Samaritans prayed to God on a mountain and the Jews prayed in the temple of Solomon. So you see, even though she had sinned and was in pain, she still had the love of God in her heart.
Jesus says these very deep words, “Woman, you must remember that God is Spirit and God wants you to worship Him in spirit and in truth.” And there will be a time that every person will worship the Father in this way, not in a special place. What Jesus Christ says here is very deep, when he says that God is Spirit. He could say that God is here in some image and we should go there to worship. That would be very clear and it would be an object of our mind: easy to grasp. To find God who is unapproachable, beyond everything, that is freedom. It is not like an idol, which we can say is here and I will offer it types of sacrifices.
It is also very interesting that he says, “In the Spirit.” What does this mean? It means that it is in the emanation of the Holy Spirit that we know God. It is not that I know God because I take a PhD in theology; but in the light of the Holy Spirit I can know God. It is very important because, although the woman is very surprised, still she is now already in the presence of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit because Jesus is always with the Holy Spirit.
But she does not clearly understand and she says, “I know that the Messiah will come and he will explain everything.” So, we see here for the first time, so clearly, that Jesus says to her, “I am Him of whom you speak.” To whom else has Jesus revealed Himself so clearly? Only to this woman, who was a sinful person. One of the songs of the Church that we read in the Matins today says, “You who are seated on the cherubim, you are talking with this prophetic woman.”
But the lesson of knowing who is Jesus Christ changed her life completely. It was not simply, “Hello, Mr. Jesus, Mr. Messiah. Bye bye.” With the revelation that, “it is I who speaks to you,” the woman believed it at once. She was in the grace of God.
She was in the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Her life changed automatically at this point because she accepted this with all her heart. She forgot even her job. She became the first apostle. She runs to her village and says to all the households, “Come, I found somebody who told me everything I have done!” Is this Jesus? She starts preaching in a smart way to persuade the people to believe. She now uses the experience of herself, which was not something to be proud of.
And once more I say, once somebody comes close to the grace of God and takes the grace of God, then all the failures of the past and all the wounds change, and they become new opportunities. For this woman who had failed and who was in bad relationships, not ethical relationships, suddenly all these things and all this pain became a new opportunity for evangelism.
And on the other hand, we see that if somebody really comes to the Church, then his life will really be changed. He may have come for other reasons, but later he may forget his previous other job or other things; like this Samaritan woman. Who cares whether she did her job or not?
I think that every one of us could tell his personal story of how he came to the church, perhaps from curiosity or maybe for other reasons – even as an enemy, and how the Grace of God changed him. I will tell you one example from my small experience in the monastery. There was someone who had also studied engineering, like me, and he went to one of the monasteries on Mount Athos. And I also went to that monastery after the death of St. Porphyrios, and I found him there. I also met his father there, who was a very tall and tough even though he was in his seventies. He was a bus driver. We met and became friends because he was putting a lot of holy water in his eyes. He told me his story. He told me that he was so angry that his only son, his only child, had gone into a monastery, so he came to the monastery because he wanted to kill the abbot. He had a weapon to kill him since he had taken his kid, though actually his kid was an engineer in his thirties. But he told me that when he saw the liturgy, the prayers through all the night, and the other things, then the attitude to kill the abbot, which would have been an easy thing to do, this attitude went entirely out of him: he changed completely. And not only did he loose this intention, but he came very often and was thinking of ending his life in a monastery since he liked the prayers and the life there.
My meaning is that when we meet Jesus Christ, something good will happen to us – definitely. Not just anything, but something very big, and all our wounds will closes. St. Photini, the Samaritan woman became an apostle and a martyr. So please pray to her and remember her because everything good will happen to you, also.
May the Holy Trinity protect all of us. Amen.
Recorder: Timothy Baker