According to the teaching of our holy Fathers the event of Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church. The Church, of course, was constituted by Christ, through his incarnation whereby he united our humanity with the Godhead, and through the work of redemption which he accomplished through his Crucifixion and Resurrection. But what God gave to the human race in Christ can only be appropriated through the Holy Spirit. As Christ said, his Apostles had to wait for the coming of the other Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent by the ascended Christ from the Father to the disciples and through them to the Church.
What is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the third person of the Holy Trinity. He is God of God and Lord, the Lord and Giver of Life. As such he belongs to the mystery of God and is indefinable. Yet everything we experience as Christians comes from him. As with the other persons of the Trinity we know him through his acts or “energies.”
In today’s Gospel lesson there are two important images which reveal such “energies” of the Spirit. The first one is the image of the “water” which is said to spring out of the inner most parts of the soul of those who believe in Christ (John 7:38-39). The other image, the “light of life”, is said to be given to those who follow Christ (8:2). We all know from our life experience how necessary water and light are for out physical existence. The same necessity applies to the Holy Spirit when we consider our spiritual existence.
Through the invocation of the Spirit the physical water is hallowed at our Baptism and we are completely cleansed from our sins and born anew. Through the same Spirit we receive the holy Chrism, whereby we are confirmed in our union and communion with Christ. None of us can be a Christian without the seal of the Spirit which brings inside us God’s abiding presence and source of sanctification. This is why the Sprit is like the water which springs out of our inner most being. Thus, the Holy Spirit abides in each one and joins all into one body, the Church of God.
The great and wonderful mystery of the Church, based on Christ’s very Body which was crucified, raised and exalted for us, is unthinkable apart from the Holy Spirit. Is it not exactly this mystery that we celebrate in the Divine Liturgy? Can we celebrate this Liturgy or, indeed, any other liturgical service apart from the Spirit? He is the Leader of our worship. The Supreme Conductor of our celebrations (Τελεταρχικόν) who changes the Bread and the Wine into the very Body and Blood of our Lord, and makes us worthy to partake of these holy and immaculate mysteries.
Pentecost invites us all to consider our high calling, our inheritance, and the gift of God the Father given through his incarnate Son in the Holy Spirit. It gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves, before our Maker and Redeemer, to rededicate our life to him, to glorify His Holy Name, of the Father and the Son an the Holy Spirit, One God eternal for ever. AMEN!
Fr. George Dion. Dragas, PhD, DD, DTh.