In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost
The Holy Gospel has not given us the name of the Samaritan woman. But the
Tradition of the Church remembers, and calls her in Greek - Photini, in Russian
- Svetlana, in the Celtic languages - Fiona, in Western languages - Claire. And
all these names speak to us of one thing - of light.
Having met the Lord Jesus Christ she has become a light shining in the world, a
light that enlightens those who meet her. Every Saint is offered us as an
example; but we cannot always emulate the concrete ways in which a Saint lived,
we cannot always repeat their way from earth to heaven. But we can learn from
each of them two things. The one is that by the grace of God we can achieve what
seems humanly impossible; that is, to become a person in the image and likeness
of God, to be - in this world of darkness and tragedy which is in the power of
lies - a word of truth, a sign of hope, the certainty that God can conquer if we
only allow Him access to our souls. Because if the Kingdom of God is not
established within us, if God is not enthroned in our minds and hearts, a fire
that destroys everything unworthy of ourselves and of Him, we cannot spread
God's light around.
And the second thing which the Saints can teach us is to understand the message
which their names convey to us. And today's Samaritan woman speaks of light.
Christ has said that He is the Light of the world, the light that enlightens all
men; and we are called to give shelter within our souls, minds and hearts -
indeed, within our whole self - to this light; so that the word spoken by Christ,
"Let your light so shine before all men, that seeing your good deeds they may
give glory to your Father who is in heaven", may be fulfilled and accomplished
in and through us.
It is only through seeing our deeds, through seeing how we live that people can
believe that the light is God's light; it is not in our words, unless they are
words of truth and of power like those of the Apostles, or of Christ Himself
indeed. And let us reflect, each of us, on the meaning of our name and on the
way in which we can become what we are called.
The Samaritan woman came to the well without any spiritual purpose; she came, as
she came daily, to fetch water - and she met Christ. Each of us may meet our God
at any turn in our life, when we are about our most homely tasks, if our hearts
are turned in the right direction, if we are prepared to receive a message, to
listen; indeed - to ask questions! Because the Samaritan woman asked a question
of Christ, and what she heard transcended her question in such a way that she
recognised in Him a prophet, and later - the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
But the light must not be pushed under a bushel. Having discovered that the
Light had come into the world, that the word of divine truth was resounding now
amidst men, that God was among us, she left behind all concerns and ran to share
the joy, the wonder of what she had discovered with others. She brought her
fellow-citizens to Christ. She told them first why she believed; and when
perhaps curiosity, or the convincing power of her words, and the change that had
occurred in her brought them to Christ, they saw for themselves and said to her,
It is no longer because of what you say that we believe - we have seen, we have
And this is what the Samaritan woman teaches all of us: be open at every moment
of life, while we are busy with the simplest things, to receive the divine word,
to be illumined by the divine light, to be cleansed by His purity, to receive it
in the depths of our souls, receive it with all our life, so that people seeing
what we have become may believe that the light has come into the world.
Let us pray to the Samaritan woman to teach us, to guide us, to bring us to
Christ in the way in which she came, and to serve Him in the way in which she
served Him, being the salvation of all who were around her. And may the blessing
of God be upon you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, now and forever
and world without end! Amen.