When Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with a woman named Photini at Jacob’s Well, He lowered Himself on more than one level. First, she was a Samaritan, and second, she was a woman. “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans,” (John 4.9) and it was unheard of in those days for men to meet with women in this way. In this encounter we see the love of God put into action through condescension. He lowered Himself to her level, but He never changed who He was. Instead, He began the process of lifting her up to heaven. Her response was to bring others, who then had their own experience and believed, not because of what she had told them, but because they had encountered Him for themselves.
In a nutshell, this describes the entire ministry of Christ. He lowered Himself by becoming one of us, while never changing who He is. He lived among us for 33 years, lowering Himself with each encounter eventually unto death, never changing who He is. At every moment He worked to lift each of us to heaven, and ultimately brought us with Him to Heaven at His glorious Ascension.
Now it is our turn, my brothers and sisters. When St Photini realized Whom she was speaking with, she ran and told the others to “come and see” for themselves. If Christ had remained at her level, without lifting up her faith, not only would she still not know Him, but the entire city would never have met Him. Now it is our turn.
In a couple weeks, God willing, we will again be permitted to enter our Cathedral for worship together as a family. We have been waiting for this news for two months, and by God’s grace and our hard work preparing ourselves and the Cathedral, we will be permitted to enter together on May 31st for public worship. We will need faith, and compassion for our brothers and sisters who may be frightened to come to Church. Just as Christ encountered St Photini on her level, and she ran to the city and encountered the city folk on their level. Christ did this without ever changing Who He is. Now it is our turn.
We must be willing to interact with our brothers and sisters on their level, without fear of changing who we are. We will need to change some behaviors when we arrive at the Cathedral for worship, but understand we do this not in fear but in love. Many in our Community have been struggling with the question of whether or not we can become ill by attending Church. Whether we believe we are immune to disease within the walls of the Church or not, is not the issue. The issue is some fear that it is dangerous to be together. In love, following Christ’s example, we will come together, not scolding each other but having compassion on each other. It will be our love for each other that, like St Photini, will bring the attention of others to “come and see” for themselves that God is real. Now it is our turn!
The actions we take to calm the fear in others does not change who we are. It does not change our faith, but it will lead others to heaven.