The True Worshippers of God

The True Worshippers of God


Metropolitan Ioïl (Frangkakos) of Edessa, Pella, and Almopia


‘They will worship the Father in spirit and truth’
There was conflict between the Jews and Samaritans. They weren’t related peoples. Samaria was a region totally foreign to the way of life of Israel. The Samaritans took their name from Mount Shomoren. They believed that the true God was a local deity and they also believed in idols. The Israelites viewed the Samaritans with repulsion, and the Rabbis ordained that Jews were to have no dealings at all with the inhabitants of Samaria.

Christ stopped to rest in this region, specifically in the town of Sychar, close to Jacob’s well. It was there that He had a dialogue with a Samaritan woman.

The dialogue between Christ and the Samaritan woman
From her questions and the surprise she showed at Christ’s words, it seems that the Samaritan was a simple woman, illiterate and uneducated. Nor did she have a good life-style. But, as Saint Cyril of Alexandria says, despite this she was a person who wanted to learn the most perfect knowledge of God. Among other things, Saint Cyril touches on the worship of God. Of course, he pointed out that the Samaritan way of worshipping God was erroneous and that of the Jews was correct. The Jews and Samaritans all felt that they were pleasing God with their incense, their sacrifices, their circumcisions, the Temple, Mount Gerizim, their bodily purifications and so on. Then along comes the Lord and tells them that God is Spirit, that is immaterial, and that people should worship Him spiritually. God isn’t served with material things which is why worship of His Person must conform to this. All the purifications and circumcisions are adumbrations, whereas the truth is spiritual worship. Efthymios Zigavinos writes that spiritual worship is humility. Someone else might say that true worship is soundness of dogma and the achievements of virtue.

Where is God to be found?
Where is God and where should we worship Him? God is everywhere, including within us. God is Spirit, and the Spirit ‘blows where it will’ (Jn 3, 8). The whole world is buoyed up by the energies of God. As we know, the Spirit of God ‘moved upon the water’ (Gen. 1, 2) and the deep. God is ‘everywhere present and fills all things’. Theofanis Keramevs notes that the words of Christ to the Samaritan woman about the true worship of God mean that the time will come when real worshippers will offer their devotions to the ever-present God not in some specially-appointed place but everywhere and in all parts of the world. They will worship God through the two defining features of the human race, which are action and contemplation.

The Samaritan woman as a reprimand to the idle
If a Samaritan woman showed such eagerness, such concern and such willingness in order to learn something useful about her spiritual life, and stayed with Christ even though she didn’t know who He was, where does that leave us? We know who Jesus is, where He’s to be found, where He’s offering Himself and so on. We should leave no stone unturned in seeking Him. Yet we don’t know even the basic elements about our spiritual life. Many of us don’t know what God we worship; what the Church is; how we’ll be saved; what the characteristics of repentance are and so on. Although this woman was a sinner, she really wanted to learn about the true worship of God. Do we have the same interest in learning the teaching of the Church and the Gospel?

My friends,
If we wanted to learn something, we’d know that true worship is spiritual. ‘You have honoured God more than merely by custom’, writes Saint Gregory the Theologian. It’s not pious customs that save us, but heart-felt, fully cognizant, spiritual worship of God.





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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.