The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John 7:37-52; 8:12
Today in the Holy Orthodox Church we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. This feast falls 50 days after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Church.
For many of us we speak about the Holy Spirit as a sort of theory or a mere idea. We know that the Holy Spirit exists but we don’t know much about Him. We may have never felt the presence of the Spirit in our lives.
My question to you is this: If we are Christians and if one of the promises of Jesus Christ is that He will send the Holy Spirit to us, then why do we not have a relationship with this Spirit?
The gospel reading gives us at least 2 clues. The Lord says “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’”
So the first clue is that one must have true belief in Jesus Christ. However in a moment you will see what true belief is. At the end of today’s passage Our Lord spoke again saying “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” It is an amazing statement, that has not been uttered by another man throughout all of history. Great teachers such as Plato and Aristotle and even the Buddha himself could not speak with such boldness. And what is the heart of the statement? He who follows Jesus Christ will not walk in darkness.
Belief is the first step to receiving the Holy Spirit, and following the words and teachings and example of Jesus Christ allows us to have the Holy Spirit burning brightly in our lives. The Holy Spirit becomes the light of our life.
There is so much about God that is a mystery to us. We don’t know or comprehend all the ways He works in our lives. Some of those ways are subtle, and not immediately observable. But some things about God have been taught to us by the Lord and His Apostles. So how do we know if the Holy Spirit is actively working in our lives? The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians chapter 5, that there is a war between the flesh and the Spirit of God.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
He goes on saying,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
So you see a clear list of the attributes of those who do not walk in the Spirit as well as those who do. The difference isn’t that one group tries harder than the other. The difference is that one of these groups seeks to know God and follow Him, and the other seeks what is best for me right now.
I want you all to be thirsty to know God. Why? Because we were born thirsty for God. We were born thirsty for God and nothing and no one else can quench that thirst. It is too deep, too powerful. But the good news is that God pours out this living water generously on those who truly desire it. He pours the Spirit on those who believe and follow the Son of God. He pours the Spirit and no one can take it away.
When God gives the Holy Spirit it changes a man’s life from a life of internal and external violence to complete peace. God wants you to have this life of complete peace…only draw near to the Son and you will also know the Spirit. And Glory be to God forever AMEN.