God Expects Us to be Sincere and Genuine

Sermon for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Christ and the Samaritan Woman. Painting by Henryk Semiradsky Christ and the Samaritan Woman. Painting by Henryk Semiradsky   

Today's Gospel reading invites us to contemplate one of the most beautiful conversations the Lord Christ has ever had with the mortals (see Jn. 4:5–42). This conversation clearly reveals the gentleness and delicacy with which God treats us. This Sunday (the Fifth Sunday after Pascha, of the Samaritan Woman) reminds us of an important condition for entering the Kingdom of Heaven—the example of the Samaritan woman makes it clear that God, Who is willing to enter into a dialogue with us, expects sincerity and simplicity.

Christ was passing through the region of Samaria in the midday heat, under the scorching rays of the sun. He approached a spring and sat down to rest. A local woman was also on her way there. She came to the spring and saw a Jewish man there. She guessed it right based on His clothing and accent. It was none other than Christ, the God-Man, and He was about to change the soul of this woman who had not yet found her way to the Kingdom of God.

Christ’s conversation with the Samaritan woman helps us to see clearly God’s attitude toward us, who are often slow to grasp the depth of Divine teaching and to perceive the message God is willing to convey to us. We have the same reflexes as the Samaritan woman. She was a straightforward, sincere, and rather courageous woman. From the start, she asked Christ what He was looking for, since He was a Jew who didn’t belong in that area. To the Jews, the region of Samaria was an unclean place that they had to avoid. The Jews never passed through Samaria, choosing instead other routes to avoid being exposed to these pagan people. The Jews believed that the Samaritans didn’t serve the true God.

To find the reason for the conversation, Christ asks her for water. This request sounded convincing, because it was midday and it was scorching hot. And so Christ begins the conversation in order to bring it to a loftier subject, namely, to the living water, or the water of the Holy Spirit, which Christ give to those who wish to thirst for it.

Once she was told about the living water that will make you never experience thirst again, The woman reacted quite pragmatically. She was somewhat of a prisoner of the material dimension of the world. She might have had to travel a long way to reach this spring, and it was exhausting. Thus, as a truly sincere and genuine person, she asked Him to give her this water, so that she would no longer need to go to the spring.

Christ, in His gentleness, doesn’t reproach the woman for failing to understand any of what He was saying, because He was talking about a completely different kind of water. The woman thought He was talking about drinking water and, once you drink it, you’d never thirst again, but Christ meant the living water.

When we fail to understand certain deep, spiritual things, the Lord, Who is always near us, is willing to help us. He is very considerate, and He helps us to attain the deeper narratives all by ourselves.

It often happens in our life that someone tells us important and profound things that can inspire us to perceive a certain reality and find the meaning of life as a result. But at that very moment, we have no clear understanding of what we’re being told. Only some time later do those things come back to us and we finally realize how right that person was. We understand that the key to all the confusion and anguish inside our soul was concealed in that message. The same thing happened to the Samaritan woman. When Christ reveals the mystery of this woman’s soul and lays open the most intimate aspects of her personal life, she understands that she is not talking to a simple man, but the Messiah Himself, the God-Man.

Based on the example of this conversation, we become convinced that when our minds are sealed and we can’t grasp the message He wishes to convey to us, God shows patience and humbles Himself, never putting us down or punishing us. The Lord always expects simplicity and sincerity from us, which would allow us to gain self-knowledge. He waits for us to recognize our present state.

He is waiting for us to recognize our current state and condition

The Samaritan woman understood that she had sinned and that she was standing before a Holy Man. She immediately chose to rush back to her village and tell everyone that she had met the Messiah, Who had revealed the innermost secrets of her life. After her conversation with Him, she found herself so full of the living water Christ had poured into her heart that she herself acted like an apostle, bearing witness to the experience of her encounter with the Lord.

Whenever God wants to draw closer to man, He always instills in us the thought that He also thirsts to inspire us and make us feel thirst for the beauty of the true, Gospel-like life. When He encounters us, He inspires us to feel thirsty and to seek ways to quench our spiritual thirst.

Without being too pessimistic, however, we regret to say that modern man no longer feels any thirst, not even for material things, much less for the spiritual! This is a man whose spiritual functions have been anesthetized, so that nothing drives him to become more genuine and sincere, at least not with God.

Anytime God enters into conversation with our soul, He expects us to be sincere and genuine; that we never desire to appear as something we are not. Let us confess the true state of our soul to Him, so that, in this way, we may be transformed and our heart may thirst to meet God.

Bishop Ignatie (Trif)
Translation by Liubov Ambrose

Mărturie Athonită (Athonite testimonial)


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