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Redeeming the Time Vol. 03.04 - Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman, St Photini, Equal to the Apostles
April 26/
May 9, 1998

Vol. 03.04

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

News and Announcements *

All this month: *

Make plans for Ascension *

Sven *

Please pray: *

Prayer for Peace *

Questions about the Samaritan Woman *

Gleanings from the Fathers *

Why we must read the Holy Scriptures? *

The Samaritan Woman is a Witness against those who are not interested in learning about the Christian Faith *

Answers to Questions about the Samaritan Woman * ANSWER 1 *










Something to Think about * Questions about the Sunday of the Blind Man *

Questions about the Ascension *

News and Announcements

All this month:

We do not say "O Heavenly King" but substitute "Christ is risen..." 3 times, until the Apodosis of Pascha (May 6/19).

After this, until Pentecost, we omit "Christ is risen...". Wherever you see "O Heavenly King..." just skip over to the next prayer.

Make plans for Ascension

Ascension Thursday is May 20th. We will have Vigil the evening before at 6:30 PM and Divine Liturgy Thursday morning at 6 AM. YOU CAN DO IT! Please make plans to attend these services.


"Sven", was so named on the eight day after his birth, at the home of his parent, Jason and Pelagia Fulanchek. His patron is St Stephen the first-martyr. The current plan is to baptize Sven shortly after Pelagia's forty days are fulfilled, on the Sunday after the Ascension, May 10/23. The sponsors will be Reader John and Mary Wilder.

Please pray:

Please pray for David, ( a friend of Fr Seraphim from Virginia), who was diagnosed recently with stomach cancer

Fr Seraphim has asked EVERYONE in the parish to pray DAILY for Serbia, Kosovo, and all people in the areas affected by NATO bombing and ground conflicts. There are cards with prayers for everyone to take home, and use. The prayer for peace is especially good to say. We must beg God's mercy for the suffering people of Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, etc, also being aware of the potentially apocalyptic implications of this bizarre undeclared war. No matter what opinion a person has, as a Christians, we must beg God for peace, and to alleviate the massive human suffering occurring in Europe (and all over the world). The following prayer (also on a little pocket sized card by the literature), was adapted from one received from an email list. Please use it in your daily prayers.

Prayer for Peace

We thank Thee, O Master, Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek Thy mercy. We appeal to Thee to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war. Grant peace to Thy servants. Instill in them the fear of Thee and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For Thou art our peace and to Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Questions about the Samaritan Woman


Who was the Samaritan woman? Tell something of her life after meeting Jesus.


"Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph."

(John 4:5)

Who were the Samaritans? Describe their religion and relationship with the Jews.


"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink." (John 4:7)

At what time of day did Jesus meet the Samaritan woman at the well? Is there anything odd about this time? Why do you think she drew water at that time?


What two revolutionary things did Jesus do by even talking to the Samaritan woman? The proud Pharisees would have judged Him on at least these two accounts.


Water plays a big role in the story of the Samaritan woman. Cite at least 5 other places where water is used to describe or point to our salvation.

In this case, Christ said to her: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: {14} 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 4:13-14)

What is the meaning of "water" in this context?


There was a significant prophecy concerning salvation that Jesus made when He spoke to the Samaritan woman. What was it? Approximate when it was understood by the entire church to be fulfilled (or being fulfilled)?


The conversation between Christ and the Samaritan woman is actually mystically another conversation between what 2 parties?


Tell the story of the Samaritan woman. Don't look at the bible when you do it. Where is it found?


Compare and contrast the reaction of the Samaritan woman and townspeople and the townspeople in the region of the Gadarenes when Jesus visited them.


The Sunday of the Samaritan woman is more complicated liturgically because of the multiple commemorations this day. Name them. List how many stichera for each commemoration are sung at "Lord, I have cried", and explain why.

Gleanings from the Fathers

Why we must read the Holy Scriptures?

"Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit."

St. John Chrysostom, HOMILY 32 on the Gospel of St. John, JOHN 4:13, 14

The Samaritan Woman is a Witness against those who are not interested in learning about the Christian Faith

Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from inquiring on such matters but we not only do not inquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts.

St. John Chrysostom, HOMILY 32, JOHN 4:13, 14

Answers to Questions about the Samaritan Woman


The original name of the Samaritan woman is not known, but the church knows her as Photini (Svetlana in Russian), "Equal to the Apostles". She was baptized after the resurrection, and in a continuation of her zealous apostolic ministry begun on the day she met the Lord, preached in many areas, including Carthage and Smyrna in Asia Minor, where she was martyred. She had 5 daughters and two sons, all of whom became martyrs. She is commemorated February 28th, and, of course, on the fifth Sunday of Pascha.

"The holy martyr Photini (Svetlana) ... was that Samaritan woman who had the rare fortune to speak with the Lord Christ Himself at Jacob's Well in Sychar (John. 4). Coming to faith in the Lord, she then came to belief in His Gospel, together with her two sons, Victor and Josiah, and five sisters who were called Anatolia, Phota, Photida, Paraskeva and Kyriake. They went to Carthage in Africa. But they were arrested and taken to Rome in the time of the Emperor Nero, and thrown into prison. By the providence of God, Domnina, Nero's daughter, came into contact with St. Photina and was brought by her to the Christian faith. After imprisonment, they all suffered for Christ. Photina, who first encountered the light of truth by a well, was thrown into a well, where she died and entered into the immortal Kingdom of Christ."

(Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic, The Prologue from Ochrid / Ohridski Prolog)

By the well of Jacob, O holy one, /

thou didst find the Water /

of eternal and blessed life; /

and having partaken /

thereof, O wise Photina, /

thou wentest forth proclaiming Christ, the Anointed One.

(Megalynarion for St. Photina, according to the Byzantine usage. Call us up at 972 529-2754 and ask for Genevieve or Fr Seraphim if you want to hear the melody!)


The simplest description of the Samaritans is that they were people who followed some of the divinely revealed Jewish religion, and added to it various kinds of false teachings. They were considered to be an unclean people by the Jews, partly because of the history between the Jews and Samaritans, and partly because the Samaritans were not pure in the faith.

"Who were these Samaritans? After Jeroboam divided the kingdom, Samaria became the capital of the Kingdom of Israel which consisted of ten tribes of Israel. Through succeeding generations, the people became increasingly idolatrous and corrupt. In 722 BC God allowed Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, to capture them and take the people away into captivity. He repopulated the land with Assyrians. Because these new inhabitants were ravaged by wild beasts, they assumed that they had offended the god of the land. So a captive priest was sent to teach ‘how they should fear the Lord.’ Thus, along with their

own gods, they also feared God and were instructed from the Pentateuch.

"Generations later, as Judah returned from captivity and began to rebuild the temple, the Samaritans wanted to help. Their help was refused. That further inflamed longfelt animosities. A man named Manasseh, of priestly lineage in Judah, married a Samaritan and was expelled by Nehemiah about 432 BC He went to Samaria and became high priest of a temple built on Mt. Gerizim and there the Samaritans offered sacrifices of the Law. In their nationalistic zeal they claimed that both their temple and their copy of the Law were greater than those at Jerusalem. On the other hand, Jewish animosity was so entrenched that a traveler went around Samaria on his journey from Judaea to Galilee. "

( - I DO NOT recommend the theology there, but the description is helpful)


Jesus met the Samaritan woman, St. Photina, at the well at 12:00 noon, the sixth hour, as the scriptures attest: "Jesus ... being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour." (John 4:6)

The woman was getting water at this time because of her shame. She "wore a scarlet letter on her forehead", and in order to avoid the gossip and cruelty of others, came to the well in the heat of the day, rather in the morning, when others would get their water.


Jews normally have no dealings with Samaritans, as the woman herself attested. It was also unusual for a man to speak with any woman in public at that time.


Water is an important part of the story in:

The crossing of the Red Sea (of course)

The teaching of Christ to Nicodemus, when he came to Him by night

The healing of the paralytic at the sheep's pool

The Great Flood

The changing of water into wine.

When Jesus spoke of giving water to the women at the well, He was telling her about the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"SCRIPTURE calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes ‘Fire,’ sometimes ‘Water,’ showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one John declares, speaking thus, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire" (Matthew 3:11): the other, Christ, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38) "But this," saith John, "spake He of the Spirit, which they should receive." So also conversing with the woman, He calleth the Spirit water; for, "Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.""

St John Chrysostom, HOMILY 32, JOHN 4:13,14


"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. {23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:21-24)

These words constitute in part a prophecy. All peoples would come to know Christ, the One who spoke it, including the as-yet- unevangelized Gentiles. The church understood fully concerning the salvation of the Gentiles after the Holy Apostles Peter's vision, and the ministry of St. Paul.

"Think not, He saith, that this is a prophecy of such a kind as shall be accomplished after a long time, the fulfillment is already at hand and at your very doors, "when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." In saying "true," He excludeth Jews as well as Samaritans; for although the Jews be better than the Samaritans, yet are they far inferior to those that shall come, as inferior as is the type to the reality. But He speaketh of the Church, that she is the "true" worship, and such as is meet for God."

St John Chrysostom, HOMILY 32, JOHN 4:13, 14


The conversation between Christ and the Samaritan woman is mystically that of Christ and the soul. We know this because the fathers have written about this subject, and the mind of the church has believed it. It is very important to read the scriptures according to the mind of the church, in the context of the services especially, and in the writings of the fathers, so that important mystical meanings may be understood, and to insure that we do not make up our own false interpretations.


The story of the Samaritan woman, St. Photina, is easy to remember, not only because it is so powerful and beautiful, but also because it is elegantly recounted many times in the holy services. The services teach and reinforce divine truths like no other occupation.

The story is found only in St John's gospel. Jesus and His disciples were passing through Samaria, when He arrived at Jacob's well, having sent His disciples into town to get food. It was about the sixth hour (noon). He met there a woman who was there to draw water, at this peculiar hour, when the sun is so intense. He asked her for water, and this began a subtle and nuanced conversation between them. This conversation is a type of the conversation between God and the soul, or the conversion of the soul from earthly, carnal and sinful ways of thinking to thinking of heavenly things. At length, He asked her to call her husband, to which the sinful woman replied, "I have no husband." Then Jesus showed His omniscience by uncovering her sinful way of life, and her 5 previous husbands, and finished the opening of this woman's heart to truth. Just after the apostles arrived from town and marveled that He was speaking so freely with this newly converted Samaritan woman, she left her waterpot, (which showed her zeal and acceptance of Christ's words, and the leaving off of earthly things which all who imbibe DEEPLY of the living water will naturally do), and ran to tell her townspeople of the Christ. While she was gone, Christ instructed His disciples about doing the will of God. When the townspeople arrived, upon investigating, they begged Him to stay a while and teach them, which He did.

"The Well-spring of the principle of life, Jesus, our Savior, came to the well of the Patriarch Jacob, and sought water from a Samaritan woman that He might drink. And when she addressed Him and said that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, the wise Creator diverted her by the sweetness of His words rather to seek of Him the everlasting water, which, when she received it, she proclaimed to all, saying: Come and see the Knower of things hidden, God Who is come in the flesh to save man.".

Doxasticon (Glory of the Stichera) of Vespers of Friday of the Samaritan Woman


The Samaritan woman reacted with great humility when her sinful life was uncovered, and with her spiritual eyes saw the truth behind Jesus' words, that is, that He is the Messiah. She cared nothing for carnal things once she was convinced that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Because she had a good heart, full of love for her people, she hastened to do the work of an apostle, and preached to her town the good news. The Samaritans received the news with joy and begged Jesus to stay a while. Their hearts were open to the truth, and they were willing to be taught.

The black hearted people of the Gadarenes also felt the power of the God-man when one from among their midst was healed of his demons, but reacted with fear and disgust. They wanted Jesus to leave their coasts, perhaps partially because they did not want their sinful commerce to be discovered by the Jewish authorities (they traded in pigs, an unclean animal according to Jewish law), and certainly because their conscience was pricked, and they did not want to repent and learn. The reaction of the Gadarene townspeople ranks as one of the greatest tragedies chronicled in all of history. God walked among them, and healed one of their number. Surely they could have believed that the meek God-man would heal them of their infirmities too, just as the Samaritan woman, one with a "scarlet letter" on her forehead, believed. They did not only hear about the power of God, but they saw it with their own eyes. Instead of becoming evangelists for the good news, they became like those who said later "his blood be on us and our children", and like dogs, returned to their own vomit.


The 3 commemorations on the Sunday of the Samaritan woman are:

  1. The Resurrection (always commemorated on Sunday, except on Great Feasts of the Lord).
  2. Mid Pentecost (which was celebrated the preceding Wednesday. The church is still in the "after" feast period).
  3. The Samaritan woman.
When there are two other commemorations on a Sunday, it is almost always the case that there are four stichera sung from the Sunday Octoechos for the resurrection in the tone of the week, and three each for the other two people or events commemorated at "Lord, I have cried". There are always 10 stichera at "Lord, I have cried" for Vespers on Saturday night.

Something to Think about

Questions about the Sunday of the Blind Man


Tell the story of the healing of the man born blind from birth. Where does this story appear? When is it read in church?


Why was the man born blind? The scripture mentions two possibilities.


What is the tradition concerning the "eyes" of the man born blind?


Many of Christ's healings recounted in the Scriptures consist of TWO healings, sometimes in a different order. What are these, in general terms? Describe these two healings of the blind man, in the order they occurred. Give at least one other example of a "double healing".


Why were the Jews upset about the healing of the blind man? What were the stated reason, and what were the real reasons?


The complete healing of the blind man is a marvelous example of synergy, the cooperation of man with God's will. One may justly conjecture that his complete healing would not have been affected if not for his own praiseworthy actions. Explain. Hint - describe and comment on the actions of the blind man from the time he was told to wash in the pool of Siloam until his second encounter with Christ. You should be able to describe at least two important actions of his, which were absolutely necessary to affect his complete healing.


The healing of the blind man shows in a striking way that God gradually illumines a soul. This event was recorded for our benefit, and, together with many other events and recountings, helps us to see the diverse manner in which Christ heals and illumines a soul, and also serves as an instruction to us, who are also being gradually illumined, more or less according to our reaction to God's grace.

The illumination of the soul has been a constant theme since Pascha. Describe at lease three other examples of this most important action of the grace of God, which the church has recently contemplated. What may these recountings teach you?


The trip of the blind man to the pool of Siloam cannot be overlooked, as it is very instructive to us. For what is this trip a model? Describe the trip, and don't be laconic! We must understand the difficulty of this trip, if we are to benefit by it.


Jesus said to His disciples, after they asked him about the blind man: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)

What is the meaning?


Describe another washing in the Old Testament (this one, being 7 washings) that also effected a healing.

Questions about the Ascension


What significance does the event of the Ascension of Jesus Christ have for the Christian? The Orthodox should understand why they celebrate a feast, and its inner meaning.


There is an important account of the ascension that is not in the gospels. Where is it? The story involves angels. How? Describe how a cloud was involved.


In the gospel reading for Liturgy on the Ascension, two gifts are mentioned by Christ. One is given and one is promised. What are they? Comment on their importance and meaning for a Christian.


From what mountain did Christ ascend? How will this mountain be involved in another, cataclysmic event?


There is a significant occurrence in the Ascension story that can only be understood in the context of the church, and the absolute need for apostolic succession of bishops and priests. This occurrence, properly understood, should cause everyone who trusts his own interpretation of the bible outside of the context of a

visible, authoritative and dogmatic church to flee from his false, individual understanding and seek out the church. What is this occurrence? Comment on it, and try to specify other scriptures that point out or support this critical Christian teaching.


What commemoration is the day before Ascension? Explain.


How long is the feast of the Ascension?


What, in general terms, is the Typicon for the services of the Ascension? List all the books needed to serve the services completely. Where may one obtain the main texts for the Ascension in English?


Detail the differences between the services of the Ascension and those of a "regular" Sunday.


Detail the differences between the services of the Ascension and those of a "regular" weekday.

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