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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today is Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church! This is the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out from heaven, and the day on which the Holy Trinity was revealed fully on earth. On the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the Lord had risen from the dead, He made good on His promises to His disciples and to all mankind. What promises were those?
1. Isaiah 44:3 “For I will give water to the thirsty people that walk in a dry land: I will put my Spirit upon thine offspring, and my blessings upon thy children” (LXX).
2. Joel 2:28-30 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And on my servants and on my handmaids in those days will I pour out of my Spirit. And I will show wonders in heaven, and upon the earth”
3. John 14: 15-17 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you and He will be in you.”
Before His ascension into heaven, Christ promised that He would not leave His people without the comfort of His presence. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of that ancient promise. St Gregory Palamas once said in a sermon: “Why did He (the Holy Spirit) appear in the form of tongues? It was to demonstrate that He shared the same nature as the Word of God, for there is no relationship closer than that between word and tongue.”
So God poured out His Spirit so that we could forever have God’s presence with us and in us. Jesus said: “Keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever.” How wonderful is that?! It is wonderful, but it also comes with an obligation: if we want the power of this Divine Presence to be with us forever, we must...what? Keep His commandments! This is the beginning of life in the Spirit. In ancient times, the first lessons that catechumens learned before they could be baptized, was Christian behavior. What the church taught about morals and ethics – these were the very first things to be learned. Clean up the externals first. Make sure the chest is secure, before adding the jewelry. And what was the jewelry? The Holy Mysteries. The catechumens had to demonstrate that their moral and ethical lives were secure, before they could receive the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and especially Holy Communion!
So, by struggling against the passions, following the commandments, going to church and participating in the Holy Mysteries, especially Confession and Communion, we are participating in Divine Life, we are renewing the Gift of the Holy Spirit within us. We continue to be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) for all eternity.
All human beings are born with a thirst, a spiritual thirst. As King David writes in the Psalms: “As the deer earnestly yearns for the fountains of water, so my soul earnestly yearns for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God” (Psalm 42: 1-2). The Lord Jesus Himself says: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Many people do not recognize this thirst as a thirst for God, and so they try to satisfy it with a million other things; amusements, food, drink, houses, things, wealth, hobbies, etc. But nothing will ever really satisfy that thirst but God, Himself. And because God is love, nothing will fill that spiritual hole but God’s love, and in return, our love for God. St Augustine said:
“If we thirst, let us come; and not with our feet, but with our affection. Let us come, not by moving from one place to another, but by loving. Although, it’s true that when the inner man loves, the outer man also moves. But it is one thing to move with the body, and another thing to move with the heart. He who migrates with the body changes his place by a motion of the body. He who migrates with the heart changes his affection by a motion of the heart. If you love something now, but you loved something else in the past, you are not now where you were before” (Tractate 32 on John).
If we strive to love both God and our neighbor, which are Christ’s commandments, we will find that the Holy Spirit is always present in our lives. It is love that will inspire us to motion, to heavenward ascent. St Gregory Palamas has assured us that this presence of the Holy Spirit will not only be with believers on this earth, but even beyond the grave. He wrote:
“He is not just everywhere, but also above all; not just in every age and time, but before them all. And, according to the promise, the Holy Spirit will not just be with us until the end of the age, but rather will stay with those who are worthy in the age to come, making them immortal and filling their bodies as well with eternal glory.”
And finally, St John Chrysostom said:
“The Spirit is called the Comforter, because He is also our advocate with the Father. And not only is He with the Father, but He is always with us also as a gift. ‘And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever,’comforting your hearts and making them steadfast in divine patience and trust in Christ. Whereas the holy Apostles received this testament after Christ’s holy Rising from the dead, and were sent forth to teach and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and whereas we have already been vouchsafed this true washing by the Holy Spirit, let us strive to keep our souls and our bodies undefiled as we glorify the Most holy and consubstantial Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”


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