“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (John 19:28) At about the sixth hour (John 19:14), during His passion, Our Lord utters these words, “I thirst”, after everything in the Scriptures is fulfilled. Christ has finished what He came to accomplish; salvation is now open to the whole world. Christ has entered into the rest of His Sabbath, finishing all that the Father had sent him to do.
However, Christ has foreshadowed His passion, and His invitation, much earlier in the Gospel of John.
“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.” (John 4:6) From this moment, Christ is inviting St Photini into His death, burial, and resurrection. But He does not just do it by merely telling her to witness it. Like the centurion’s witnessing His death, Christ asks St Photini for a drink; He initiates the Mystery of Confession.
Let us unpack John 4:6, and the sequential verses, to see how it relates to St Photini’s confession, and Christ reinstating her as “Woman” (John 4:21), that is, her initiation into His passion. It also gives us yet another interpretation of her five husbands and the one she is living with. The time of day is definitely important: “it was about the sixth hour.” Some translations will say “noontime,” as they are translating the Greek “the sixth” into our secular time today, since in those days they calculated the time of day differently than we do today.
“The patience of the sailor is tested in the midday heat or when he is becalmed; and the lack of necessities tries the perseverance of the hesychast. When the one grows discouraged, he swims in the water; and when the other becomes despondent, he mixes with crowds.” ~St John of the Ladder, The Ladder, On Stillness, #19
In those days, to avoid the “midday heat,” women would come to draw water in the morning. But, because of her promiscuous ways, and the subsequent gossiping and chatter among the other women of the town, St Photini cannot come to draw water in the cool of the morning. She must bear the pain of the midday heat, precisely because of her sin. We start by witnessing the role Divine Justice (as I wrote about here) plays in our Christian life. Yet, St Photini “perseveres” due to “the lack of necessities” (water) and continues to look for the Messiah (as discussed in my writing here).
The hymnography to St Photini’s feast day on the 4th day of Pascha, in the Pentecostarion, gives us another symbol of “the sixth hour,” while showing St Photini as a type or symbol of Eve, and, ultimately, confession.
Of the Samaritan Woman. Idiomels. Tone 1.
The source of wonders came to the source at the sixth hour to catch the fruit of Eve; for at the same hour Eve had left Paradise by the deception of the serpent. The woman of Samaria then came near to draw water. When the Saviour saw her he said: Give me water to drink and I will fill you with water welling up. The wise woman ran to the city, and at once announced to the crowds: Come, see Christ the Lord, the Saviour of our souls.
St Photini is a symbol of Eve, not only in that her sins are revealed “at about the sixth hour,” but also in that God asks a question of each. Of Eve, God asks “Who told you are you naked?” (Gen 3:11) while of St Photini, God asks “Go and call your husband and come back.” (John 4:16) As previously discussed, this reveals yet another symbol of her previous five husbands: they are the first five days of creation. The one she is with now, her “6th man”, is a Symbol of Adam, for Adam was created on the 6th day. Christ is then her “7th” Man, the One Who will finally show her rest, that is, the Sabbath. This idea that Christ symbolically woos (Divine Eros) St Photini, as He does the Church, is confirmed in more hymnography on her feast day.
“O Almighty Saviour, Who did pour forth water for the Hebrews from a solid rock:You did come to the Land of Samaria, and addressed a woman,whom You did attract to faith in You,and she has now attained life in the heavens everlastingly.”
“Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” (John 4:16)
“O how great the wisdom of the woman! How meekly does she receive the reproof! …For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He does here also; for to have charged her first of all that, You have no husband, would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer….And what kind of connection, says someone, is there in the saying, ‘Go, call your husband’? The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ says, Call your husband, showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, I have no husband. Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom she now would hide.” ~St John Chrysostom
St John Chrysostom’s commentary offers support for all of our conjectures. Christ knows the pain the woman is suffering, in the “midday heat.” He comes to comfort her, in the form of confession, and St Photini responds true. He further reveals that, since she is a type of Eve (who initiated the fall by asking Adam to eat the fruit), initiates salvation in “calling her husband,” for salvation is for him also. Let us take a further look at “…and softened the disposition of the hearer”.
Hymnography on St Photini’s feast day from the Pentecostarion gives us our answer:
Katavasia. The Day of Resurrection.Ode 3. Irmos.
“Come let us drink a new drink, not one marvelously brought forth from a barren rock, but the Source of incorruption, which springs up from the tomb of Christ, in whom we are established.”
Also, Canon of the Samaritan Woman. Tone 4. With an acrostic in the 9th Ode: Joseph.
Composition of Joseph of Thessaloniki.Ode 1. The Irmos.
“You struck Egypt and drowned the tyrant Pharaoh in the sea, and saved a people from slavery, as they sang Moses’ song of victory: For he has been glorified.”
There are many references to the Exodus story in the hymnography of St Photini on the 4th Sunday of Pascha. Reading the commentary of St Augustine ties together the idea of “softening” with the Cross and Christ’s passion.
“And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” – Numbers 20:11
“We recognize that we are taking a trip in a wasteland. If we recognize ourselves in a wasteland, we are in a wasteland. What does it mean, in a wasteland? In a desert. Why in a desert? Because in this world, one thirsts on a waterless road. But let us thirst that we may be filled. For ‘blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice; for they shall have their fill.’ And our thirst is filled from a rock in the wasteland. For ‘the rock was Christ.’ And it was struck with a rod that water might flow. But that it might flow, it was struck twice; for there are the two pieces of wood on the cross.” ~St Augustine of Hippo
When Christ, who is the rod of Jesse, a symbol of that very rod which struck the rock twice and out sprung water, strikes the hardened rock of our hearts, softening it, bringing forth water “not one marvellously brought forth from a barren rock, but the Source of incorruption, which springs up from the tomb of Christ.” Striking twice is a symbol of the of the cross. And our proper confession of our sins reinstates us as Adam’s and Eve’s, as ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ (John 4:16) as we are invited to participate in our Lord’s Sabbath rest.