Homily – The Enlightened Moral Psychology of the Samaritan Woman

Homily Notes: Samaritan Woman

St. John 4:5-42

“He told me all I ever did.” (St. John 4:29)

This is not new for God. His omniscience has long been recognized. The prophet David proclaimed it in song in Psalm 138, which includes these words (7-12);

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

The question is not whether God knows our deeds, but what we make of it. What does it mean that we cannot hide from Him?

Of course one thing that you have to know is that He is always there to comfort and save you. There is no where you can go and be away from His love and power. If you remember nothing else, please remember this: our God is not only all-knowing and all-powerful. He is the the God who is quick to save.

But there is a more difficult realty contained within this Gospel message [meat vs. milk; 1 Corinthians 3:2]. The only way to experience His mercy and comfort, the only way to accept His salvation, is through humble repentance.

The woman at the well must have been tempted to defend her sexual impurity. Heaven help us, her serial monogamy is the kind of the wickedness that our culture celebrates. Remember from last week how our fallen moral reasoning operates: first we instinctively decide what is right, then the advocate and cheerleader in our mind explains to us and all the world why it is so. But we deceive ourselves. We might be able to justify our sins to ourselves; we might even be able to convince some of the people around us. But this is not real justification. Because we are sinners, the only real justification is in the blood of Jesus. And while He offers Himself “on behalf of all and for all” (Anaphora, Divine Liturgy); the fruit of His offering can only be received through repentance.

We celebrate the life of Saint Photini, the woman at the well, not because of her sexual impurity (this isn’t Hollywood), but because she stepped away from the fallen standards of her mind and of her culture, repented, and found perfection.

She encountered the All-Seeing Eye (Matins prayer) of Christ and accepted the truth of its judgement. She saw the error of her ways, begged forgiveness, and changed her way of living. From that moment on, the constant presence of God within her life was a blessing: a light in the darkness, a refuge among the chaos, and a guide to perfection. Thanks to her transformation, she was renamed “The Enlightened One” and is recognized as a true apostle of Christ.

Her life could have ended differently. She could have responded to the Truth of Christ’s words with the brilliance of the lawyer, advocate, and cheerleader in her brain, never setting aside her instinctive belief in her own righteousness. In her own goodness. Even had that happened, even if she had continued to live a life of impurity and delusion, God would not have left her. Where could she be that God is not? But instead of bringing her comfort his omnipresence would have brought her pain.

God does not lie and those who live lies suffer in His presence. The light of Christ illumines all, both good and bad.

If we let go of our lies, this light will become an unending source of joy to us; it will illumine the path to eternal health and perfection. But if we hold on to our illusions, then this light will only bring us pain and confusion. And as with the joy of those who live in truth, the pain and confusion of the damned will endure forever. How could it be otherwise? [You cannot square a circle.] God’s light never fades or dims. “The Truth of the Lord endureth forever” (Psalm 116:2), but so does His patience and so does His mercy (ibid).

The choice is ours. In Christ, let us choose repentance. In Christ, let us choose salvation.