River Of Living Water

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‘On the last day of the  festival, the great day,  while Jesus was  standing  there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’ “. Now he said this about  the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus  was not yet glorified ( Jn 7: 37-39). 

What did we get out of the  passion, crucifixion and resurrection  of  Jesus  Christ? Assurance of salvation, institution of the sacrament of  Eucharist,  establishment of the Church as the sacrament of salvation and finally the  pouring down of the Holy Spirit are the most important  results of Christ’s sacrifice and   subsequent glorification.  Without any doubt, we can say that  the fulfilment of   the promise  to send the  Holy Spirit was the  best part of it.  As John says, the glorification of  Jesus  was  a condition to be fulfilled before the  pouring  down of the Spirit.  It does not mean that  the Holy Spirit was  something  new, that was introduced into history at a particular point of time.  The Holy Spirit was there  in the  Triune God before ages, before anything was created. In fact  the first book of the Bible starts with a reference  to the  Holy Spirit.

‘In the beginning when  God created  the heavens and the earth, the earth was  a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the  face of  the waters’ (Gen 1:1-2). The wind  that was present, even before the  earth took shape and   heavens were created, refers to  the  Spirit of  God. The Hebrew root of the word translated as ‘wind’  can be translated as spirit also. The Spirit of God which we call the Holy Spirit was  active before creation, is still active, and will be with us till the end. In the Old Testament we  see examples of  persons upon whom the  Holy Spirit came. But they were for specific purposes and sometimes for  specified time periods. 

We read about  Samson; ‘The spirit of  the Lord began to stir him in Mahanehdan, between Zorah and Eshtaol’ (Judg 13:25). With  the help of the Spirit, Samson did many great things, but unfortunately  in a later  time it so  happened that  Lord’s spirit left him without Samson  even knowing it. This  ultimately led to the Philistines seizing him. Only when  the Holy Spirit leaves a man that he understands what he really lost.  David knew it. That is why he prayed to God  for  retaining the  Spirit within him. ‘Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me’ (Ps 51:11). On a personal level  he knew what  would become  of a man,  who once bestowed with  the Holy Spirit, but later  deprived of it. He had the example of  Saul, the first king of Israel before him. ‘Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him’ (1 Sam 16:14). It is  interesting to read on.  The remedy that Saul’s servants advised him was to  bring somebody who was  skillful in playing the lyre.  This was how David got introduced to  Saul. Whenever the  evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it  with his hand, and Saul would be  relieved and  felt better and the evil spirit would depart from him.

You might be  thinking; ‘So it is  easy to get  rid of   evil spirits. Just bring somebody who is skilled in playing  the lyre and the evil spirit will depart!’. Before jumping into such conclusions we should remember that nowhere in  the Bible we see any other person who  casts out  evil spirits  with a lyre. Then what was  special about  David and his lyre? Well, we should  have started  reading the passage from a little behind. ‘Then Samuel took the horn  of oil, and anointed him (David) in the presence of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily  upon David from that day  forward’ (1 Sam 16:13).  David was an ordinary man and  his lyre was  also an ordinary one. But when the  spirit of the Lord started working in David his lyre started producing  notes of  deliverance. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit empowers us  to do  many many things that are beyond our human power. It is apt to say,  ‘it is the  Spirit that gives life, the flesh is useless’ (Jn 6:63). David knew it and  this was  sufficient reason for him to be scared of the possibility of  the Holy Spirit leaving  him when he  committed two mortal sins in a row and then tried to hide them.

It is in God’s plan  that  His Spirit  dwells in  those  in whom He is pleased  and  enables  them to know His will. In the Book of Wisdom we read; ‘Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom  and sent  your Holy Spirit  from on high?’ (Wis 9:17).  As we  know, only those who fulfill the  will of the  Heavenly Father will  enter the gates of eternal life. And to know what God’s will is, we  need the help of the Holy Spirit. We see  the  scattered thoughts  about the   Holy Spirit    recorded in the  Old Testament days, developing into  its fullness in the teachings of  Jesus.  In his conversation with Nicodemus, one thing Jesus emphasises is the need of being born of water and  Spirit. “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God  without being born of water and Spirit’ (Jn 3:5). After  explaining the need of  a second birth in  Spirit, Jesus tells  him about  two kinds of  persons, or rather two categories   into which the whole of mankind  could be  grouped. They are  those born of  flesh and  those born of Spirit. How is it possible to  distinguish between them? According to  Jesus it  is very easy. ‘What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit’ (Jn 3:6). We cannot expect a better, simpler  answer. 

Now it is time for us to   introspect. Are we flesh  born of flesh?  Or spirit born of Spirit? This distinction  is  all that   makes a Christian   different from others.  Before leaving this  world, Jesus promised his disciples that  he will send  the Holy Spirit  upon them. Unlike in the past when the Spirit was  given to specific persons for specific assignments and for a  specific period, the promise of  Jesus was  wider in its scope and reach.  Now onwards it is going to be  a full scale anointing of the Holy Spirit upon those who believe in Jesus. ‘………He gives the  Spirit without measure’ (Jn 3:34).

It is a mystery that much before  Jesus taught  his disciples about the Holy Spirit, he  taught  others about this  power coming from  on high. We have seen how Nicodemus was instructed about the Holy Spirit  during his  private and secretive meeting with Jesus  that was  held at night. Again during his  encounter with the woman  of Samaria, Jesus   offers her the ‘spring of water gushing up to eternal life’. It was during his final hours on this earth that  Jesus taught his disciples about  the Holy Spirit that they were  going to receive after his ascension. Jesus promises to send the Spirit as an Advocate  to be with them  forever.  Not everybody can receive this Advocate, because the world neither sees him nor  knows him. This being the Spirit of Truth, it is  natural that a world that is founded in falsity and  flourishing in lies  cannot  receive it. Blessed are those  who are found worthy to receive this Spirit of Truth. Jesus says; ‘You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you’ (Jn 14:17).

The purpose of  sending the  Holy Spirit was to  see that  the disciples of  Jesus are not left orphaned. Jesus’s tenure here was  surprisingly short and he knew that there are many more things to be taught to his disciples and he left this task to the Holy Spirit.  ‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and  remind you of all that I have said to you’ (Jn 14:26). To be specific, Jesus tells them three areas where the  Holy Spirit will instruct them. ‘And when he comes, he will prove the  world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin because they  do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the  ruler of this world has been  condemned’ (Jn 16:8-10). Jesus who himself is truth says; “When the Spirit of  truth comes,  he will guide  you into  all the truth…’ ( Jn 16:13). This is something very important, because Jesus  is  telling us that to get the fullness of truth about Jesus, we need the  help of the Holy Spirit. Without it, whatever we learn of  Jesus will be an incomplete and futile academic exercise. When  Jesus says that no one  can  come to Jesus  unless he is drawn by the Father who sent Jesus here, it means  that a special intervention of the Father is needed for us to know the  real Jesus. This special  grace is being  given to us through  the Holy Spirit.

Around us, we see many people – Christians included –  keep Jesus  in high esteem because he was a  good man, a  social reformer, a revolutionary, a person who preached love and one who   was the  manifestation of  mercy. They  stop short of  admitting that  Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and  that he is the only way, only truth and only life that we can  bank upon. Those who ignore this most important part of  the mystery called Jesus, will not and cannot reach the  fullness of truth.  They will  stumble on their way. They fail in their attempt to know the real Jesus because  they  did not  seek the  help of the Holy Spirit. Paul explains  the role of the Holy  Spirit in helping us to  understand  Jesus and  what  he  achieved for us. ‘Therefore I want you to understand that  no  one speaking by the Spirit of  God ever  says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cori 12:3). In this  sense  the Holy Spirit acts as the foundation of our faith, because our faith is based on the belief that  Jesus Christ is Lord.

Many people understand  the Holy Spirit at a conceptual level only, ignoring the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person, though it is  incomprehensible to us, mortals. Since the flesh is useless and the Spirit is  all powerful, we need the  help of this Spirit  with us at all times  to  do anything good.  The Holy Spirit happily resides in  our  body, says Paul. ‘Or do you not know that  your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are  not your own?'(1 Cori 6:19). It is in the fineness of things that  we should never  offend   a valued guest staying with us. As prudent men we will see that  our guest is  comfortable as long as  he stays with us. In the  case of  the Holy Spirit, he  is a guest for the  whole life, unless of course we  tell him to vacate.  The Bible  tells us not to offend the  Holy Spirit who has  marked us for the  day of salvation. 

Paul defines the   true meaning of  worship in terms of this lifelong partnership of the  Holy Spirit with us. “I appeal  to you therefore,  brothers and sisters, by the mercies of  God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and  acceptable to  God, which is your spiritual worship’

( Rom 12:1).

On the day of  first Pentecost after the Resurrection, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. The Church was  officially inaugurated on this day. Since then every Christian receives the same Holy Spirit at the time of  their baptism. This anointing is  rekindled  every time we receive sacraments, especially  the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and  Confession.  We, the Church, are living between two Pentecosts, the second to  come soon  and  to which we eagerly look forward. To those  who open their eyes, this is the time for preparing ourselves for the  second Pentecost. The Blessed Virgin in many of her messages and apparitions has mentioned about this second Pentecost, a powerful pouring out of the Spirit on mankind.

Living between two Pentecosts means  that  we are  given the   freedom to  emulate either Saul the King or Saul the Apostle. One  lost his anointing by his own deeds. As a result  he got tormented by an evil spirit and  died a violent death. Another, delivered from everything worldly and filled with the Holy Spirit. He became Paul and lived in the constant company of the Holy Spirit.

What  does a  life in the Spirit look like?  We have some examples from the  Book of Acts. First is   of  Philip  who was  guided in  each step  while  preaching the gospel. The Holy Spirit told him what to do, how to do and when to do. Once his  mission was  accomplished, we read that  the  Spirit carried him to another destination. ‘When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on  his way rejoicing.  But Philip  found himself at Azotus and as he was passing  through the region, he proclaimed  the good news to all the  towns until he came to Caesarea’ (Acts 8:39-40). For those who are  on Lord’s mission, the Holy Spirit will  take care of everything  from logistics to supplies. They  just need to   surrender themselves to the  guidance of  the Spirit. And for  a man who  comes in contact with  them will  continue their life  rejoicing, like what the  eunuch did. 

In the case of Stephen who was filled with the  Holy Spirit, he  could gaze into heaven even during times of  severe physical assault on him by an enraged mob. ‘But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into  heaven and saw the glory of  God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and  the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56) We know what happened  next. They stoned him to death but not before  he prayed  for  his enemies! Stephen’s example  tells us that a person filled with the Holy Spirit will be  able to   fix his eyes on a life beyond  death even   at times of  severe adversities. He will give testimony to  Jesus even while surrounded by  enemies fully knowing  that  his life is at stake.  He will  pray for those who persecute him. It is impossible and unimaginable for us to   think that an ordinary  man like us could behave in this way.  Left to himself, Stephen would not have  done all these  things. It was the Holy Spirit who helped him by giving the  necessary graces. 

This Spirit is not up for sale. This was the costly lesson Simeon the magician learnt when he  offered Peter money   for getting  the anointing  of  the Holy Spirit. Think of the  folly of Simeon who tried to buy something  that comes totally free. But  before pointing our accusing fingers at Simeon,  think of our own folly in  not  taking  full advantage of the free gift of the Holy Spirit that our Saviour promised us. Think of our  folly in  not utilising   the  powers of this perennial companion in fighting the spiritual war, deep into which we are  now. Think of our folly in forsaking the fountain of living water and  digging out cracked cisterns for us that can hold no water, as Jeremiah lamented.

These are days of which  Joel prophesied: ‘Then afterward  I will pour out  my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream  dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male  and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out  my spirit’ (Joel 2:28-29).

It is  worth remembering the  parting words of Paul addressed to the church in Ephesus. ‘And now, as a captive  to the  Spirit, I am  on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and  persecutions are  waiting for me’ (Acts 20:22-23). Are we ready to let ourselves be  captive to the Spirit? If so,  the Spirit will  take us to the New Jerusalem, the  City of God. Though  perils and  persecutions are sure to  come, the surest thing is that the Holy Spirit will never  let us down in this pilgrimage.

With this fervent  hope, let us  prepare for the  second Pentecost and  pray with the Blessed Virgin.

Comments

2 COMMENTS

  1. Holy Spirit of God please I Align myself children grandchildren and parents to You Help Us. Also Aling my brothers sister and cousin and family members and others who do not people to pray for them Help Us. Amen.

  2. Holy spirit help me and my family come and stay with us all the time.give my family , childrens wisdom knowledge of understanding and faith of believing God and peace and love in my family Amen

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