Sermon by Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany
on the Fifth Sunday of Holy Pascha
Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
For three years, the Lord walked upon the Earth, for 3 years He summoned the Apostles, witnesses to His Incarnation, witnesses to His preaching, witnesses to His miracles, witnesses to His suffering for our sake, witnesses to His death on the Cross, witnesses to His Resurrection and His most glorious Ascension.
Who were these apostles? Fisherman, tax collectors, and a wayward Samarian woman, whose memory the church marks today, the fifth Sunday after Pascha. The woman who should have deserved the worst of names, is it called today Photinia, the light-bearer, for the Light which she received from the Lord, the Light of the World, and who spread the Good News of Him in this world, just as any Apostle who persuades us of the Truth of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ.
How did the Lord turn a wayward woman like this into His Apostle, His disciple? The main criterion for disciplehood is described by Him: “ If any man come to me… and not hate… his own life… he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 ). Why should a person possess a soul, if it is to be without Christ? There are no words more terrifying ever uttered. But God, having become man, knows His creation, and knows that the soul of man was created to fit within itself God Himself. It was not with rebuke that the Lord addressed the Samarian woman, but with love that He summoned her, and told her to bring her husband, knowing that she had known five men, and that the one whom she was with now was not her husband.
Through His Divine omniscience, He reveals to her His divinity, humbly revealing the secret of her sinful life. And this opens her eyes. She sees with Whom it is that she speaks, she understands what it is that the Lord speaks of when he tells her about water “ But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14 ). For the Old Testament Prophets spoke of this water, too.
Through the Prophet Jeremiah, the Lord rebuked the people of Israel who abandoned the source of living water, that is, God the true God “ they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters ” (Jeremiah 2:13 ). And through the words of prophet Isaiah, He promised “ For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3). The Lord opens the eyes of the wayward woman Photinia, and she becomes a messenger of the Good News. She goes to the Samarian village and calls its residents to behold Christ, Who was revealed to her, Whom she knew from Scripture “for I tell you that the Messiah shall come, who is called Christ.” Although there were many others other prophecies from the Old Testament which she obviously had not heeded in her personal life.
The Lord sated her first with Living Water, that is with Himself, and she became His Apostles. She saw that she must come to hate that which conflicts with Him in her own soul, that she must destroy that sin in order to enter life. Death is anything that imprisons us, that is in conflict with God, and alienates us from Him. As St. Macarius the Great said, the soul cannot find peace until it buries all that imprisons it. And only then can we say “sickness and sorrow and sighs have been driven from me”, that is in the desert of the soul which thirsts for God: “for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6).
Through the Word of God, through Divine Grace, the water flowing from the desert into eternal life turns into a torrent and becomes the source of resurrection.
The Lord grants us the water of life. He pour His Spirit upon the flames that engulf us, and blesses us and our progeny. We must fill our souls with this Water, with the Lord Himself, for in Him is the fullness of Divinity in bodily form, as Holy Apostle Paul says (Collosians 2:9). Therefore, filling our souls with the Lord, we fill it with all Divinity. We do not have such fullness anywhere but in the Church, in the Body of Christ, which we partake in the Holy Gifts, which is offered in His Mysteries.
Just as the Samarian woman came to the well, we come to Church in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, be sated with the living water, to become sources of this water ourselves, which flows into eternity along with St Photinia. The Lord did not disdain her, He does not disdain us. The Lord did not shy away from descending into Hades itself, so He will not deny entering our own personal hell, which we create through our sin, into the soul that does not yet possess Divinity.
Let us summon Him with prayer and fasting, let us call for His Mysteries, let us cry out to Him in the Church of Christ, and be filled with living water which flows and washes away iniquity, and sanctifies us, and makes us bearers of Light as were the Apostles of the Word of God. Amen.
May 20/June 2, 2002, Munich.