A large percentage of our physical body consists of water. That’s the reason we can survive longer without food than without water. We have many kinds of “ales” to satisfy our physical thirst, but who or what can quench and satisfy our spiritual thirst?
The Samaritan woman judged Jesus from His appearance as a mere Jew in need of water. She invoked the perennial differences between Jews and Samaritans, caused by the exchange and “mixing” of the Samaritan population by Sargon, the Assyrian king, in 721 B.C. But Jesus shifted the conversation from the empty world of appearances to the real needs of the spirit, to the deep existential questions. The Samaritan woman had tried to drown the emptiness of her life by repeated marriages and extramarital affairs. She was surprised when Jesus revealed her “secret love life” to her. For a moment, she tried to avoid the pain of her sinful past by pointing to the differences of worship and beliefs between Samaritans and Jews. But Jesus stayed the course of conversation and pointed out the real presence of God that supersedes the “apparent” differences of worship. “God is spirit, and all who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
Now the Samaritan woman realized that she had before her an “extraordinary person, Who could even read her innermost thoughts and Who “mysteriously” knew her past sinful life. She thought that he was a prophet. Could He also be the Messiah?”
Jesus revealed to her that He was truly the expected Messiah. This thought made her a missionary in spirit, and she ran to the city to share her discovery with the people of her village: “Come and see a man who has told me everything that I have done.” Curiosity brought the people to Jesus in the beginning. But when they met Him in person, they were convinced that He truly was the “Messiah,” and they asked Him to stay with them a few days to quench their spiritual thirst. Jesus accepted their invitation and stayed with them two days and “evangelized” Samaria.
After Jesus left, the Samaritan woman dedicated her life to Jesus and became His missionary in Samaria. She changed her name to “Fotini,” which means the “illuminated.” We see that her initial superficial conversation by Jacob’s well led her eventually to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. She found in Him the “Life-giving Spring of Living Water,” who satisfied her inner thirst and made her a worthy vessel to carry God’s healing and refreshing water, His “Good News” of salvation, to many other thirsty souls in her village and other cities.
Through her faith and spiritual conversion to Christ, Fotini invites all of us to discover the “Spring of the Living Water” for ourselves and to come to the spirit-filled Sacraments of His Church to satisfy the thirst of our souls.
Christ is Risen!
With love, Fr. John P. Angelis