Today on the feast of Pentecost we conclude the paschal period and read for the last time from the gospel of John.
We pray to the heavenly Spirit on our knees. The gospel extract here is taken from the feast of Tabernacles celebrated at the temple in Jerusalem. The three elements of this feast are significant. They consist of the drawing of water at the Pool of Siloam; the rite of light; and the rite of facing the temple. Both the words of Jesus about the streams of living water as well as the saying of Jesus “I am the light of the world,” are made easier to understand by the first two rites. Jesus proclaims that he is now in fact the living water. “Out of his heart shall flow streams of living water.” By way of explanation the text adds: “Now he said this about the Spirit which those who believed in him were about to receive. For the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
The leaders rejected Jesus as messiah and prophet. Here the choice is to reject Jesus and walk in darkness or to follow Jesus and walk in the light.
A glimpse at the Byzantine Book of Hours (Chasoslav) offers further enlightenment on the Spirit in the following: “The Holy Spirit is Light of Life, the living spring mystically gushing forth, the Spirit of wisdom and Spirit of knowledge, good, upright, and understanding, majestic and purifying from sin. He is God and deifies us; Fire proceeding from Fire, speaking, acting, and distributing gifts. It is through him that all the prophets and the apostles of God have received the crown, together with the martyrs. A strange report to hear and strange to see: the fire is divided for the sharing of gifts.” (St Gregory the Theologian).
Our hardships force us – exhausted, oppressed, and frightened – to bend our knee and pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen the Church, to bring her out of this mournful state … and to inspire in her a new supernatural vigour
By way of a contemporary instance of life in the Spirit let me recount the following from the time of the underground Church.In 1947 from a Gulag prison camp, the head of our Church, Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, wrote an amazing letter for the feast of Pentecost to his faithful, in fact to all of us. A handwritten copy arrived in western Ukraine from Siberia and was found in 2003, in a capsule cemented into a wall in the Studite monastery in Univ. “Our hardships force us – exhausted, oppressed, and frightened – to bend our knee and pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen the Church, to bring her out of this mournful state … and to inspire in her a new supernatural vigour,” writes Metropolitan Josyf. He continues, “Only the Holy Spirit can show us the way out and bring us out of a storm our Church never endured before. He will teach us to discern God’s plans and ways, which short-sighted people cannot see. The Holy Spirit will teach us with his gifts of wisdom, reason, and knowledge of the fullness of truth.”