Jesus source of living waters
Homily for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
By Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
Homily for the 5th Sunday after Easter: Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
St. John 4:5-42
The theme of the “living water” is a traditional theme in the Holy Scripture. In the Old Testament, God is believed to be the source of every life. In God we have an inexhaustible source of life, on which we can draw. We read in the book of the prophet Jeremiah: “Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water” (2:13).
This source of living waters appeared to us in the fullness of time in Jesus Christ, who said to the Samaritan woman: “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4: 13-14).
We read in the Book of the Prophet Amos: “Days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord” (8:11).
The prayer of the psalmist echoes this thirst: “O God, you are my God whom I seek; For you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts; Like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. Thus I have gazed toward you in the sanctuary To see your power and your glory; For your kindness is a greater good than life, My lips shall glorify you” (Ps. 63:1-4) Jesus in His sermon on the mount, said: “Happy are those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied” (Mt. 5:6).
In the Old Testament the Jews used different rites of washing and purification with water. These external purifications with water made the person ritually clean, which means that they were able to participate in the official services in the Temple; they, however, did not have any effects upon the soul of the offerer.
In the New Testament, the source of divine life that is given to us by Jesus is the Holy Spirit, who not only enables us to celebrate the liturgical services with a ritual purity but cleans us from inside, as Jesus said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me; as scripture says: From His breast shall flow fountains of living water. He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not glorified” (John 7: 37-39).
This divine water of the Holy Spirit, this fountain of life, is what we call also the “grace”. We read in the prologue of the Gospel of St. John: “Indeed, from His fullness we have, all of us, received – yes grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Christ” (Jo 1:16-17).
That is the new worship of which Jesus spoke when He said to the Samaritan woman: “the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshiper the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship Him in spirit and truth” (Jo 4:23-24).
The new worship is first of all the action of the new nature seeking, as the sparks fly upward, to return to the Divine and heavenly source from which it came. We, by the baptism, were born from above, through water and the Spirit (Cf. Jo 3:3-5). In the second place, worship is the activity of a redeemed people. We worship the Lord who saved us. In the third place, worship proceeds from the heart, as Jesus said: “This people honors me only with their lips, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless” (Mt. 15:8-9).
To worship God in spirit and truth means to be filled with the Holy Spirit sent to us by Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit pray in us, as we read in the letter of St. Paul to the Romans: “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray properly, but the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God” (Rom. 8: 26-27).
Jesus says to us in the Book of Revelation: “Now I am making the whole of creation new… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; I will give water from the fountain of life to anybody who is thirsty” (Rev. 21:5-6).
The Holy Spirit and the Church invite us to come to the fountain of life, as we read also in the Book of Revelation: “The Spirit and the Bride (that is the Church) say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come; all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free” (Rev. 22:17).