In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

On the Sundays between Pascha and Pentecost we read several of the miracles of our Lord from the Gospel according to St. John the Theologian. As we anxiously await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we’re reminded in these readings of the awesome power of God—a power bestowed on the Christian through the Holy Spirit. So today we hear the account of Christ’s life changing conversation with Photini, the Samaritan woman, at the Patriarch Jacob’s Well.

I’d like us to consider for a moment one aspect of the story that often we struggle to accept in our own lives, and therefore struggle to make known to others. The all-encompassing forgiveness offered to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ.

We all want to be forgiven, we all want to be reconciled with God. But acceptance of that forgiveness is something that most people today really struggle with. In our reading of this encounter, we probably all identify ourselves in some way with the Samaritan Woman. Sinners, those who have fallen from grace, separated ourselves from God. And Christ is there, offering her, and us, forgiveness. Offering a new life.

He doesn’t condemn. He doesn’t deride or scoff because of the enormity of our sin. But He does require honesty. An honest confession of the sins of our past. Photini’s confession is a painful one—constant failed relationships, infidelity and adultery. Her past is humiliating and her sins were thought of as some of the worst sins that a person could commit. Christ requires that she be honest, and then He offers her a new life. In fact, He reveals to her that He is the Messiah. This happens almost nowhere else in the Gospels—but our Lord knows that this Samaritan woman is ready to change. She’s ready to meet Christ as Saviour and to be healed.

And immediately she accepts His word and is healed. Her first action is to run into her village and bring others to see. What a beautiful statement her fellow villagers make at the end of the Gospel reading—now we believe not because of what you said, but we have heard Him and know that He is the Saviour of the world.

Accepting the forgiveness of Christ is necessary for our healing as Christians. So often we come to the Church, and we believe, and we strive for perfection in the Christian life, but we struggle with accepting forgiveness. This is both a psychological and spiritual struggle that our modern era is plagued with – this ability to wholeheartedly accept forgiveness. Sometimes we’re not willing to face our sins with the honesty that Christ requires. Sometimes it’s easier to think that we need to suffer punishment for our sins. Sometimes we feel that we aren’t worthy of forgiveness.

But the Father’s of the Church tell us that all these temptations come from pride. We like to think that we’re special, in that the sins we struggle with are unlike the sins of others. But that simply isn’t true. There’s nothing new under the sun. In fact, from Christ’s perspective, the breaking of one commandment, He said, is breaking them all.

To come wholly to Christ, to be completely transformed like St. Paul (where it is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me), we come in humility. Willing to bare the deepest wounds of our souls and receive the balm of forgiveness. Willing to see that we’re just another wretched sinner, and only in the light of Christ do we become the unique persons that He has created us to be. Willing to be forgiven, and willing to be changed.

Accepting forgiveness isn’t easy—it requires repentance, which requires death. Death to our own ways and to our own will, in order to be re-born in the image of Christ. It is only in our weakness and brokenness, when we come to God asking forgiveness and humbling ourselves to accept it, only in this weakness can the grace of God begin to work and Christ can bring forth His image in us.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!