June 13, 2022

Homily for Pentecost Sunday: Christ and the Holy Spirit (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37).

Beloved brethren, this is the word of Christ that He spoke during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. On this feast the Jews glorified God for their miraculous salvation. Every morning in the Temple there was a procession in remembrance of the miraculous gushing of water from the stone through the staff of Moses. Also, every afternoon, two lamps were lit in the portico in memory of the cloud of light that illuminated their fathers during the night journey. On the last day of this feast, Christ, standing in Jerusalem and referring to these two miraculous events that these two worshipful acts reminded us of, cried out: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink ... I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 7:37; 8:12). Then we will be preoccupied with the first proclamation of Christ: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37).

Christ with this discourse revealed the great truth that the miracle of the gushing of water from the rock in the desert to quench the thirst of the people, did not come from the nature of the rock, nor from the power of Moses, but it was an action of the spiritual Rock, who constantly followed the Israelite people. And this spiritual Rock was and is Christ. Thus the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).

The Holy Fathers, illumined by the Holy Spirit, said that all the epiphanies of God in the Old Testament were theophanies of God and the Word of God. The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is that in the Old Testament we have revelations of the pre-incarnate Word, in the New Testament we have revelations of the incarnate Word. If we have a spiritual sensitivity and purity of heart, we can see the revelation of God in nature and in history.

Christ always quenches the thirst of the man who is burning for true life and for true Joy. he Himself is true Life, Joy, Light, a Blessing for all. Man, united with Christ, acquires grace "of His fullness" (John 1:16). Christ completely satisfies the spiritual thirst of man. He did not come into the world to bring some ideas and abstract theories, but to bring life to people: "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He reconciles man with God, Christifying and Templifying human nature.

We see this in the lives of the saints. Those in the valley of death, thirst for the "living God". In accordance with the measure of thirst and eagerness they received in their existence the water of life, which increases their thirst: "Those who eat me will hunger for more, and those who drink me will thirst for more" (Sirach 24:21). He is the unsatisfied satisfaction of divine mercy. Thus, the saints showed us that man is not what he has, but he has what he is, that is, his value does not depend on material goods and everything he has, but his happiness is connected with his renewal and transformation of his nature. And this transformation takes place in Christ.

There is unity between Christ and the Holy Spirit. As water cools and purifies, so the Holy Spirit cools man and cleanses all the inner wounds of sin.

It is not that one thing is the work of Christ and another the work of the Paraklete. The Holy Spirit is not an abstract divine energy, but one of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, proceeding from the Father and resting in the Son. This rest, according to the Fathers, is a constant movement and action, it is the active manifestation of the Paraklete. Thus, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit forms Christ "in the hearts of men." Christ and the Holy Spirit are the two Parakletes of God in the world, working on the deification of man and the transformation of the whole world.

He who is connected with the true Rock, Christ, becomes a source of theology. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). This shows the height of Christian anthropology, that is, to what point it elevates man.

When the Holy Spirit enters the heart of man, then man is altered internally and this alteration is also visible externally, through movements, silence, speech, etc. A man acting through the Holy Spirit receives the greatest of gifts, the gift of theology.

Therefore, the Theologian is not the one who holds a degree from the Theological School, but the saint who in his heart accepts the energies of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual life is closely connected with theology, because the spiritual life is based on theology, and theology derives all its power and life from the spiritual life. The starting point of all evil begins with the disconnection of these two states, that is, when theology is disconnected from the spiritual life.

Living in a world that offers programs for the improvement of human life and comes down to the advertising of only ordinary things, we must appreciate the great offer of the Church, which is seen in its feasts. The Church, through the energy of the Holy Trinity, transforms human existence. The transformed existence really and essentially changes the world.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.