Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John
At that time, Jesus cometh therefore to a city of Samaria, which is called Sichar, near the land which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. And so on.
Homily by St Austin, Bishop of Hippo.
15th Tract on John.
Jesus, wearied with His journey, the mysteries are beginning now. It is not for nothing that Jesus is wearied. It is not for nothing that the Mighty One of God is wearied. It is not for nothing that He is wearied Who Himself giveth Rest to all them that are weary and heavy-laden. It is not for nothing that He is wearied Whose absence prostrateth us, and Whose presence maketh us to be strong.
Jesus, therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well and it was about the sixth hour. There is a depth in all these details they all have something to say for us to learn. Upon them we gaze. Knock, saith the Lord, and it shall be opened unto you. Let us knock then and, O, may He open to me and to you, even He Who hath spoken to us those words Knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Matth. vii. 7. It is for thy sake that Jesus was wearied with His journey. We find the strength of Jesus, and we find Jesus weak; yea, strong and weak. Strong, for In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God the Same was in the beginning with God. Wouldest thou know again how that the Son of God is strong? All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made made without effort. John i. 1-3. What then is stronger than He by Whom all things were made without effort? Wouldest thou know His weakness? The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. Christ, strong, made thee; Christ, weak, redeemed thee. Christ, strong, made all things out of nothing; Christ, weak, so wrought that that was made perished not. His strength hath made us, and His weakness saved us.
He then, being Himself made weak, is strength to all such as are weak, gathering them together, to use His own figure, even as an hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as an hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matth. xxiii. 37. Consider now, my brethren, in what bondage is an hen to her chickens. There is no other bird in whom motherhood is unmistakeable. We watch the sparrows building their nests under our eyes; we see swallows, and storks, and pigeons building theirs every day. But, unless we actually see them in their nests, we know not if they have little ones, or no. But the hen’s motherhood is so much a part of herself, that even if at the minute we see not her children the chickens following after her, nevertheless we see by her ways if she be a mother.