The Fifth Sunday of Pascha
Today we celebrate the meeting of our Saviour with the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s well.
I know that the Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. When He comes He will tell us all things…Jesus said to her, I Who speak to you am He. John 4:25-26
One day, a woman came to draw water from a well. Jesus was sitting near the well, and asked the woman for a drink of water. The woman was surprised that Jesus was speaking with her, for she recognized the Lord was a Jew and they had no dealings with the Samaritans. Then Jesus said, “If only you knew who I am, you would ask me for a drink and I would give you living water. The water I can give you will let you live forever, eternally.
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water.”
Because Jesus is God, he knew about this woman, even though he had just met her. She began to see that Jesus was sent from God. She then went back to the city and told her friends about Jesus. Many people came to believe in Jesus because of this woman at the well.
Through the sacred tradition we know the Samaritan woman was baptised with her family some time after Christ’s Resurrection. After her Baptism her name was changed to Photini, which means one who is enlightened. The Church also honors her with a special title, “Equal to the Apostles”.
All of her family came to believe and follow Christ: her two sons – Victor and Josiah; her five sisters – Anatolia, Phota, Photida, Paraskeva, and Kyriake. She went with her family to a city in Northern Africa, called Carthage, where she and her family were arrested, thrown in prison, and martyred by getting thrown into a well.
And so the one who at the well was enlightened – meaning she came to know the Truth from the very source of Truth Himself, was martyred at a well.
There are some today who challenge that Christ is the Messiah. They claim this is a term we have applied to Him and that He never claimed this title for Himself. Today’s Gospel reading is most remarkable as a great source of truth that our Saviour acknowledged and proclaimed that He is indeed the One who was promised – the Messiah.
Many might ask why the Church includes this Gospel lesson at this time. The first two Sundays following Pascha track the historic events surrounding the the Saviour’s Resurrection. The following weeks would seem to deviate from this.
To answer this we must first understand that mind of the Church in this matter. The Church has assigned the Gospel readings throughout the year to follow a pattern. With the coming of All Saint’s day after Pentecost, the readings are reset to begin with the Gospel of Matthew. The following months progress with the Gospels of Mark then Luke. We may recognize this as a plan of catechism for one seeking to be Baptised. A plan in the Church was to prepare the catechumen for baptism throughout the year and then complete the baptism on Holy Saturday. It is for this reason the Thrice Holy hymn that day is changed to “All ye that in Christ have been baptized, Christ have ye put on”.
With the baptism of the new Christian begins a new education and the Church sets forth the Gospel of John to complete this. And so, for the time of the Pentecostarion, the Church assigns the readings from the Gospel of John to strengthen the newly illumined and provide greater emphasis on the Lord’s divinity and the mysteries of the Eucharist.