In today’s Gospel lesson (17May20, John 4:5-42), we are given a myriad of lessons. One of the first is that of observing human nature.
Our Lord strikes up a conversation with the Samaritan woman. It is an unexpected thing to her. Normally, no Jew would be caught dead fraternizing with a Samaritan, let alone a Jewish man conversing with a Samaritan woman.
But after the small-talk has occurred (and that phraseology is ill-advised, for nothing that our Lord says is unimportant!), Jesus says to the woman, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
And here is the lesson in human nature. The woman responds, “I have no husband.”
We can find in the woman’s words that element of trying to cover her sin. Yes, I may be living with a man, but we’re not married, so he’s not my husband. What I’m saying isn’t UNtrue—it’s just not the WHOLE truth. Is this not the way of the world around us today?We live in a country where the political parties have divided themselves from one another to such an extent that neither one seems to care first and foremost for the well-being of the people they are elected to serve, but rather they serve themselves and those who fatten their electoral war chests. Truth? Find it if you can, but recognize that while you search for truth, in how business and politics are conducted throughout the world today, people suffer because the truth doesn't matter. Any politician will will attempt to convince you that their perspective is the ONLY truth. And yet opposing political perspectives have truths that do not coincide - these truths are in diametric opposition to one another. So if we are to believe anything, perhaps we should believe that both are telling us, “We have no husband….”!!!!
A second take-away from today’s Gospel is how the woman responds to our Lord’s clearly indicating that He knows her—He knows her whole life, where she’s been, with whom she’s lived. And He knows her pain over living as she is now, her self-loathing for the life she finds herself captured within. Her response is not to take offense at the Lord’s knowing all these things about her. Rather, she is overcome with joy that these things are “in the open.”
Within that joy, the woman abandons her mission in coming to the well. At this point, the water that she had come to gather has no importance whatsoever in comparison to the knowledge that she has found the Messiah, or more appropriately, He has found her.
She leaves behind the worldly empty waterpot, and runs to the people around her. Her sin? It no longer matters. She professes it openly to the community. She has become an evangelist, perhaps the first after St. John the Forerunner. Going to the men in the city, she fearlessly proclaims, “Come, see a Man Who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
Those words from the Orthodox Study Bible sound less certain than the original Greek, wherein the woman’s words translate to, “Is not this the Christ?” Whether the others choose to believe or not, she already has become a disciple.
By a word from the Word! Our Lord's promise to her that the water that he gives will "become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." See in her this overflowing spring of living water as she evangelizes the people of Sychar! See how the Living Water with which our Lord has filled her overflows and fills others.
The woman, St. Photini, goes on to evangelize the people of Sychar, then her five sisters, and her two sons, all of whom are also known as saints. She went to Carthage and evangelized there.
During the reign of Nero, Saint Photini lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses, where she fearlessly preached the Gospel. Her eldest son Victor fought in the Roman army against barbarians, and was appointed military commander. Later, Nero called Victor to Italy to arrest and punish Christians.
An officer there, Sebastian by name, said to Victor, “I know that you, your mother and your brother are Christians. As a friend I advise you to submit to the will of the emperor.” Victor fearlessly declared that he, like his mother, wanted to preach Christ. The man who advised Victor then was struck blind. Four days later, he proclaimed, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.” When Victor asked him why he had changed his mind, the man replied, “Because Christ is calling me.” He was baptized and his sight was restored.
Reports of this reached Nero, and he commanded that they all be brought to him. There, all of them confessed Christ before the emperor, who then ordered that their fingers be smashed with iron rods. But each of them, as they received blows, felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed. Nero ordered that the men be thrown into prison, and the women were placed under the supervision of his own daughter, Domnina. Saint Photini converted Nero’s daughter and all of her servants to the Lord!
After three years, Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants who had also been locked up there. He reported that Sebastian, Victor and Joses had recovered from being blinded, and people were visiting the prison to hear their preaching. In fact, the whole prison had been converted to the Lord.
After many more tortures and miraculous deliveries by our Lord, Nero ordered that Saint Photini be flayed and thrown down a well. After twenty days in the well, Nero had the saint brought to him one more time, asking her if she was now ready to offer sacrifice to idols. The blessed saint spat in the emperor’s face, saying, “You stupid man! Do you think that I am so deluded that I would renounce the Living God to offer sacrifices to idols as blind as you?”
On this, Nero again had the saint thrown down a well, where she surrendered her soul to the God who filled her to overflowing nearly forty years earlier.
In 66AD they all were martyred by the Emperor Nero.
Christ is Risen!