Monday, May 11, 2015

The Samaritan woman - a sinner worthy of revelations

womanwell.jpgChrist reveals Himself as the Messiah to an overtly sinful person. How can this be? It was because the woman was not proud, and had a simple faith. This faith allowed her to believe what God Himself was saying to her: “I am the Messiah”

She makes mention of Him for Whom she waited and longed, but Whose presence was still concealed. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming, the One Who is called Christ. Whenever He should come, He will announce to us all things (John 4:25)”. Do you see how ready she was to believe that the Awaited One was already at hand, and how hopeful she was? Surely David’s words apply also to her: “Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart, I will sing and chant in my glory (Psalm 56:8).
St Gregory Palamas, 14th century

On the other hand, the Pharisees and Jews were unable to believe Christ, unable to see Him as the Messiah. This occurred even though they were very familiar with the Scriptures and prophesies regarding Christ. Even today, a person who lives in sins easily believes all kinds of lies and slanders, but finds himself unable to accept Christ, Who is God:

He said: “You cannot hear My word”, and not “You do not wish to”. Then He explains the reason why they are unable to hear, which is that they have their own father, the devil.” Although you insanely call yourselves God’s children, as if He is your Father, your deeds witness that the devil is a more closely related as a father to you. You wish to fulfill his desires.” He did not say “deeds” but “desires”, showing by this that they are very prone to lies and murder, the two forms of evil which are very particular to the devil. “He was a murderer from the beginning”. Therefore you too, desiring to kill Me, become like him, who killed Adam.”
Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid, 11th century

Christ makes clear the connection between moral life and coming to know God. Only a person who makes himself ready to receive Christ, will be able to accept Him. God gives salvation, but we make ourselves ready by struggling against sin.

Although the Samaritan woman has committed obvious sins, she does not become offended when Christ mildly points these out. Her soul understands that the conversation is about the greatest topic, above all matters of this earthly life:

O how great the wisdom of the woman! How meekly she receives the reproof! … She not only does not insult Him - as would the Jews - but even admires and is amazed, and supposes Him to be prophet. She is not indignant at the rebuke of her fault, but rather she is filled with astonishment. She was neither annoyed, nor insulted, nor took to her heels; but rather admired Him, and persevered the more…Note, that when she suspects Him to be a prophet, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, nor concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines…Seest thou how much more elevated in mind she has become?
St John Chrysostom, 4th century

The Samaritan woman is saved from her many sins by Christ’s direct purification. Likewise, countless Christians are saved from the realm of the evil one by repentance and Baptism - regardless of their former sins.

Christ says to her: “See, O woman, thou hast been drawn from a pit of wretchedness. I, Who have no bucket, purified thy heart without a stream; and without waters I washed clean thy mind. Willingly I came to dwell in thee, and I showed thee Who I am and I did not drink.”
St Romanus the Melodist, 5th century

God gives this salvation to anyone who wishes to have it - the spiritual life of eternity. Eternal life is closed and hidden to the prideful soul, which cannot accept rebukes, which prides itself on some small deeds, and believes it does not need the spiritual water and food from God:

When God made this body of ours, He did not grant to it that it should have life either from His own nature or from the body itself, nor meat and drink, raiment and shoes; He appointed that it should have all the supplies of life from without, making the body in itself quite naked, and it is impossible for the body to live at all apart from the things outside itself, without food and drink and clothing. If it attempts to subsist upon its own nature alone, taking nothing from without, it wastes and perishes. In the same manner it is with the soul also. It has not the divine light, though it is created after the image of God. So has He ordered its conditions, and has been pleased that it should not have eternal life of its own nature; but of His Godhead, of His Spirit, of His light, it has spiritual meat and drink, and heavenly clothing, which are the soul’s life, the life indeed.
St Macarius the Great, 4th century

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