True liberation is bound up with conversion

JESUS answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

John 4:3-29.


Archimadrite Lev Gillet (1893-1980)

Archimandrite Lev Gillet (1893-1980)

Today is the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.

“GO, call thy husband… ”

Jesus was about to reveal to the Samaritan woman the mystery of living water.

But at this point He interrupts His discourse rather abruptly and calls upon the Samaritan woman to reveal the evil of her life.

The Samaritan woman restricts herself to a stammering half confession. Jesus is more explicit about things.

He puts His finger on the wound and incises it: the succession of five husbands, the present state of concubinage.

Jesus does not let His dialogue with us go on for a long time without confronting us with the immediate realities of our life. He asks us about our secret wounds.

Perhaps we would prefer to stay on the level of ideas and listen to Jesus develop a doctrine, a general message.

But Jesus cuts us short: “Go, call thy husband…”.

Jesus is so anxious to bring sin out in the open that He says to the paralytic from Capharnaum: “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee” and not “be thou cured!”

Whenever we would perhaps expect Jesus to speak of social reform and material improvements, He speaks to us of sin, repentance, forgiveness.

Certainly, a complete attachment to the Gospel implies, necessitates external reforms.

But whether it be a question of problems such as sickness, work, oppression and economic justice, sin is there in the background.

True liberation is bound up with conversion.

Archimandrite Lev Gillet (1893-1980), “A Dialogue with the Saviour”, ch. XXVIII.


In 2004, Pope Shenouda III, Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, preached a sermon on the Samaritan woman.

He focused on the gentle way Jesus dealt with her, and drew lessons for the confessional (especially for priest-confessors) and for our treatment of fellow sinners. Perhaps, he says, it is simply that the time for their visit from Christ has not yet come.


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