Christ is Risen!
We don’t often think about it in such terms, but our day-to-day lives are governed by a presumption that tomorrow will be mostly like today. I’ll awake in the morning. I’ll have coffee and lunch, read the news, get angry at traffic. Nothing much will change.
We take a certain comfort in this common-placeness of our daily lives.
And we don’t often think about our lives in terms of beginning, middle and end. We don’t remember our beginnings (thank God!). Our “middles” are muddled with revisionist-history versions of what really happened, revisions to make us feel better about ourselves, I guess.
And our ends…. We don’t give much thought to our ends. After performing or participating in a myriad of funerals over the years, one comes (as clergy) to recognize that funeral services are not for the departed, but rather for the living. “You are going to be here where you see your loved one or friend, and it is coming sooner than you think.”
But that sobering message is very often ignored by those who come to honor the departed, and who refuse to see themselves in his or her position.
St. Photini today goes to Jacob’s well to draw water. It is a daily activity for those in Sychar, or indeed in any town in Samaria or Israel. Water is needed to sustain life. Drawing the water was not an easy task, not like for us who get it by the twist of a wrist. We get it clean (mostly), hot or cold at our choice. On demand, so we can ask for only what we need.
In St. Photini’s time, she would no doubt come to draw enough for the day. A heavy bucket-full would need to be pulled by rope from the depths of the well, poured into a vessel, repeat. And then the vessel would be carried from the well “back home.” It was difficult—one might even go so far as to saying back breaking. In the account in the Gospel of St. John of the Wedding at Cana, the waterpots are written of as “containing 20 or 30 gallons each.” Even ignoring the weight of a stone pot, 20 gallons of water weighs about 170 pounds.
No doubt St. Photini is not carrying a pot this big, but you get the idea.
When Jesus asks her for a drink, He opens the flood gates (pun intended) for her to speak with Him about—water! In the discourse the Lord tells her plainly, “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
Water that is alive. Water than not only sustains the life you have, but water that renews the life you have, water that through baptism gives you birth into a new life, eternal life, water that will sustain you for eternity. Yes, certainly it is water that would remove your need to carry heavy pots home daily. But that’s the least of the water’s properties. Jesus promises her water that “will become a fountain springing up into everlasting life.”
In our modern world, we don’t ever think of such water, any more than we think about the issue of the end of our life. This is to our spiritual detriment, for without giving thought to that Day when we will stand before the Lord, we can’t find in ourselves St. Photini’s ability to face our sins, to recognize that He knows us along with our sins, to drive us to the place where we confess our sins and face Him now, while we can, before that Day comes and it’s too late.
She drops her water bottle at the well and runs to her townsfolk. “Come see a Man Who told me all things I ever did.” She becomes one of the first to evangelize.
She is rewarded by being forgiven, and with becoming one who carried His word to the world.
St. Photini knew that her end would come, and she reconciled with the Lord with time to spare. And she claimed that living water as her own.