Glory to Jesus Christ!
Today we celebrate the blessed Feast of Pentecost, the Fiftieth Day of Pascha. We begin, as it were, the “rest of the year” now, that part of the year after the great season of Pascha, lasting all the way until Lent next year, when we begin the preparation for Pascha once again.
As we find so often in the Christian life, every day, every week, every season offers us the chance to resolve to begin living the life of grace in earnest all the more. And today is a great opportunity of exactly that challenge for us, for the coming year.
Having spent the Paschal season without bending the knee, in accordance with tradition, today, for the first time since Pascha, we once again will liturgically kneel in prayer. It is a good place to be – on our knees – to start again, to start ever anew, to start the rest of our time, as we celebrate the great mysteries of the Feast of Pentecost.
In today’s Gospel we hear our Lord calling out: If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink!
Our Lord draws no man by force or compulsion, and He certainly does not attempt to debate or prove anything to anyone in order to win followers – but rather He simply calls anyone who thirsts, and offers to give him drink. He is the Wisdom and Power of God, He is the eternal and ever-existent Word of the Father, Who stands even today, now, just as He did then and calls the thirsty to drink. Let us taste and see and know that the Lord is good; He is the inexhaustible fount of goodness and immortality.
The living water which is offered is the grace of the Holy Spirit. For just as water comes down as rain from the heavens, nourishing and refreshing material creation; so also the Holy Spirit descends from heaven and nourishes and refreshes the soul.
The Holy Spirit is also called fire, because just as fire is one in appearance, but acts in various ways, warming, burning, illuminating, and cleansing, so it is with the Holy Spirit. As we hear in the Scriptures, “There are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but the same God, Who worketh all in all.”
Even before our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, He gave His Disciples power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. After His Resurrection, however, He bestowed the Holy Spirit upon them, not so much for raising the dead or doing other such wonders, but for the remission of sins, a far greater wonder.
God Himself abides in the soul of him who is forgiven of sins by the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures attest. There the glory of the Holy Spirit is called the kingdom of heaven, and it is within you, and the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling in us through faith.
And the Christian, who is guided, strengthened, and purified by the Lord’s commandments, does not then simply have some vague spiritual illumination or human enlightenment. For our Lord attests, as we hear in today’s Gospel, “I am the light of the world.”
I am the light of the world, He said. Not the light of Judaea or Galilee, the light of East or West. Not the light of one nation or another, one people or another, but the light of all the world. Christ calls Himself the Light of the world, for in Him is indeed the light of the divine glory; He shines With the radiance of understanding upon those who are spiritually purified. He enlightens us who are held in the darkness of ignorance. Christ is the Light, because He is the illuminator of souls which are being purified in word and life. If sin and ignorance are darkness, then certainly knowledge and life in God are light.
He that follows this Light will not abide in error and sin. He will not walk in darkness, but in the light of life, of truth, and of justice.
Who is a follower of this Light? Who is a follower of Christ? He or she who is a doer of the word, and not a hearer alone. He who is pious, she who lives righteously, he who is reverent, she who is generous, he who is long-suffering, she who is joyful; all those who work in the light Who is Christ, all those walking the path of grace, walking as in the day, for all these things are the fruit of a living faith, that most necessary virtue.
Let us, then, my friends, today as the rest of this year now spreads itself before us, this time after Pentecost, and as we face the good work which is to be done by us – and in us – during this time, let us, as we bend the knee, resolve happily all the more to live piously, to live righteously and blamelessly, to walk honourably, and to follow the light of faith and of Christ’s commandments. Let us not dwell in – or dwell on – the outer darkness of sin, the outer darkness of wickedness and error, of deceitfulness and spiritual delusion; but let us have the light of eternal life.
Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: come and dwell within us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.