This Sunday honors a remarkable missionary, someone who proved to be more than what society thought of her. It is St. Photini (the name means Enlightened One”), who was the Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacobs well, as described in todays Gospel reading. She was from Samaria, a people the Jews considered as heretics, shunning them and refusing to have any dealings with them. St. Photinis old life had been a scandalous one, which was widely known in her community. In spite of all of that, she was a person who was spiritually searching. She had been with multiple men, but she was still unfulfilled, wanting something greater. What she was looking for was salvation. She wanted to find the Savior, the Messiah, and when she finally met Him, her life changed completely. She became Photini, and is forever commemorated and honored by the Church.

Wonderful is the missionary work of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are commemorated together on May 11th. Their mission was spread over a vast area of central Europe, which consists of what is now the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Ukraine. Their reach even extended to parts of Austria, Hungary and into Russia. Whole nations abandoned paganism and superstition, in favor of Christian civilization. They worked as equals, determined to plant the Christian faith as Apostles to the Slavic peoples.

When reading the Holy Gospels, one of the most striking things we see is that after the Lords Resurrection, His Disciples were not the first to see Him. Instead, it was the women who had anointed Jesusdead body with myrrh, who would receive the blessing to see the Lord first. These pious women, who remained faithful to Him since the beginning, kept the flame of devotion constantly burning in their hearts. They followed Jesus and the Twelve Apostles during their public ministry, and served them in the needs of daily life. St. Luke the Evangelist notes that the women who accompanied Jesus provided for His needs from what they had (see Luke 8:3). Some of them were wealthy, such as Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who was an official for King Herod.

Today we commemorate St. Thomas the Apostles declaration of faith in the Risen Christ as his Lord and God (see John 20:28). It is the 8th day after Pascha, and is called Thomas Sunday” in memory of this event. From what we know in the Gospels, St. Thomas was a fisherman. There is a particular mention of him fishing in the Sea of Galilee (also called Tiberias) (see John 21:2-3). No doubt the Lord also called St. Thomas from the water to follow Him, as He did with Sts. Peter, John and the others. St. Thomas greatly loved Christ, and was devoted to Him. When the Lord announced to His Disciples that Lazarus had died, and that He had to go to Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem (where the Jews were conspiring to kill Him), it was St. Thomas who said to the others: Let us also go, that we may die with Him (John 11:16).

As we continue to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection today, we also commemorate the victorious great martyr, St. George. He was from Cappadocia, born into a wealthy and noble family. He was a high ranking officer in the Roman army, and a Christian, who was arrested for his faith during one of the persecutions ordered by Emperor Diocletian (284-305). After a period of horrific trial, he was beheaded and later buried in Lydde, Palestine. In the conscience of the Church, he was immediately recognized as a Saint, inspired by the many miracles surrounding him. The veneration of St. George soon extended throughout the world, and when the persecutions ended, churches were built dedicated to him in Constantinople, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere.

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