(John 4:5-42)

St. Joseph, Lawrence, MA 5/6/07

“If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘give me a drink,’ you
would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:

Today’s Gospel is full with contrast between the heavenly and the earthly
reality. The Samaritan woman comes to draw physical water, an earthly
purpose. Jesus presents her with spiritual water, heavenly response. The
Samaritan woman was seeking to quench her physical thirst. Jesus offers
her the spiritual drink to quench her spiritual needs. Jesus says to her:
"Everyone who drinks this (physical) water will be thirsty again; but whoever
drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will
become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (2:13-15)

The woman asks Jesus about the material place for true worship; is it
Mount Gerizim in Samaria or the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem? Jesus
draws her attention to the spiritual dimension of worship. "God is Spirit,
and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth." By the way,
this may explain, although it does not excuse, why the Christian world at
large has not shown the proper concern about the Holy Land, about the
Holy Sepulcher of Christ and the Church of the Resurrection and about the
other Holy Places, as compared to the Moslems and the Jews. Most of all,
the original inhabitants of the Holy Land have suffered from this lack of
concern. For better or worse, many Christians think with St. Paul: “For here
we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:

Jesus asks the Samaritan woman to bring her husband. She admits that
she has no husband. The one with whom she was living was not her
husband. There was the difference between a physical relationship and the
spiritual one sanctioned according to God’s plan.

The disciples offered Jesus material food. "Rabbi, eat." (2:31) Jesus
replied about His spiritual food, "I have food to eat of which you do not
know." (4:32) "My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish
His work. (4:34) Later on, when the crowd came to Him, Jesus reproached
them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you
saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for
food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the
Son of Man will give you. For on Him, the Father, God, has set His seal.”
(John 6:26-28)

The disciples looked at the harvest, the material grain which was due in
four months. Jesus drew their attention to the spiritual harvest already ripe
to be gathered joyfully. (2:35)

The task of our Christian religion is to emphasize the spiritual meaning of
our words and of our lives. We are made of flesh and blood; we have to
take care of this body which is mortal; but St. Paul reminds us: “We know
that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building
from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” (2
Corinthians 5:1)

When we come to church, we are reminded at the beginning of the Liturgy
of the faithful: “Let us lay aside all earthly cares, that we may welcome the
King of all.” A little later, the priest turns to the people and invites them:
"Let us lift up our hearts!" And the people answers: “We lift them up to the
Lord.” These two invitations should not go unnoticed. Every time we
attend the Divine Liturgy and we hear this invitation, “Let us lay aside all
earthly care… Let us lift up our hearts…” and we respond to it sincerely, we
are carried up from the earthly plan to the heavenly. "Our citizenship is in
heaven," writes St. Paul, “and from it we also await a savior, the Lord
Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)

The Lord said: "I am the light of the world." He also said to His disciples:
"You are the light of the world." Of course, He was talking of the spiritual
and moral light.

In our family, in our business, in our relationships, in the sweet and sour of
life, it makes a great difference if we look down or if we look up.

"Two men looked out from their prison's bars
The one saw mud, the other stars."

Although our personality is one (hopefully!), there are two tendencies which
pull us in opposite directions and threaten sometimes to tear us apart.
These are the two poles of our reality called respectively in the Scriptures:
the flesh and the spirit. According to St. Paul who addresses us in his
Epistle to the Romans, we (hopefully!) "live not according to the flesh, but
according to the spirit. Those who live according to the flesh are intent on
the things of the flesh, those who live according to the spirit, on the things of
the spirit. The tendency of the flesh is toward death, but that of the spirit
toward life and peace. The flesh in its tendency is at enmity with God."
(Romans 8:4-7)

The worst we can do is to draw religion to our lower level and so to deprive
ourselves from the benefit of religion altogether. A Latin proverb says:
Corruptio optimi pessima", which means the corruption of the best is the
worst corruption. This is what we do when we forget about the higher
meaning of religion and stick to the earthly level. Here are some examples:

The marriage celebration in church is the occasion of asking God's
blessings over the couple joined to each other forever by the loving power
of God. However, we see some people concerned about the external
ceremony and about the wedding reception more than about the necessary
preparation for the marriage itself. Man and woman are attracted to each
other and want to unite body and soul in order to form a family. God
blesses this human love and elevates it to the level of mystery, or
sacrament. Husband and wife represent Christ the bridegroom and His
bride, the Church.

In baptism, the social aspects sometimes blind the spiritual aspects.
Sometimes people attach more importance to the reception following
baptism than to the religious ceremony itself. Many people take a short cut
directly to the house or the banquet hall instead of coming to church for the
real thing. Here are striking examples of "the tail wagging the dog!" What is
more important the mysterious effect of the crowning ceremony and of the
mysterious rebirth through baptism or the social gathering which expresses
our gratitude to God for His abundant blessings? When we chose a
godfather or a godmother for our baby at baptism, how many times we give
priority to human considerations and forget altogether what we are doing?
A godfather or godmother are supposed to be exemplary Christian who set
the example to the newly baptized. I cannot sponsor a new member into a
society if I am not myself a member in good standing in that society.

Here is another example of the "two levels" of interest which separate the
flesh from the spirit: We lovingly assure material food and clothing and
social necessities and
education to our children? How much are we concerned about their
religious education? Parents who have registered their children in the
Sunday School, and of course, the teachers who volunteer to teach them
and who take time to attend special meetings and courses to enable
themselves to teach well, are to be commended for setting their priority on
the spiritual rather than on the material level.

When young men or women think of a career. How many think of becoming
a teacher, an engineer, a medical doctor, a lawyer, a business man or
woman, etc.? Are we willing to give a chance to becoming a priest or a
religious? Why should God come second in our consideration? To serve
God full time is the best way to fulfill our life and assure our happiness for
time and eternity. I wouldn't exchange the service of the Lord for any other
job in the world!

In summery, are we looking up most of the time or looking down? With
Jesus or without Jesus, that makes the greatest difference. Let us invite
Jesus into our hearts as the Samaritan people urged Him to stay with
them. And He stayed two days. That made the difference between time
and eternity.

The Kondakion of the day sums it up beautifully. This is what the Greek
word Kondakion means, putting it together as in a nutshell:

"The Samaritan woman came to the well with faith and saw you the Master
of Wisdom: You satisfied the thirst of her soul, and she inherited the
kingdom of heaven forever."

As the Samaritan woman, may we all encounter with faith and with love
Jesus our Lord, the Master of wisdom and the Father of Lights. Let Him
satisfy the thirst of our souls and make us inherit the kingdom of heaven.

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08/09/09. 06:10:20 pm. 1529 words, 878 views. Categories: Uncategorized ,