He is Risen! Jesus has returned to the Father, and now He sends us His Holy Spirit. His gracious respect for our free will is once again shown—in this Gospel for the Vigil of Pentecost, He offers an invitation to choose to come to Him and drink. Always inviting, always accompanying us on our journey, always offering us more, He invites us to share His life more deeply. Notice there is a catch to this invitation, though; it is directed to those who thirst. Thirst for what? Thirst for more purpose, more meaning, more grace, more joy; all we most desperately need is found in Him, in the Lord Jesus Himself. But are we thirsty enough to come to Him? If we take some time and ask ourselves, are we thirsty? In fact, few people would say that they have too much joy, love, peace, purpose, grace, etc, in their lives. Do we still thirst for these; do we believe that the Lord Jesus wants to satisfy this thirst? His statement in the Gospel makes it clear that it is His desire to satisfy our thirst, especially our most basic and essential thirst, our thirst for Him! “For He has made us for Himself, and our hearts won’t rest until they rest in Him.” His revelation to St. Augustine addresses a truth that all human beings share in; we are created to be in relationship with Him, and the deeper that relationship, the more we will fulfill the very purpose of our existence. To operate outside of that relationship leaves us in a restless state; try as we might to assuage our restlessness with other things, that restlessness will dominate our lives. We also discover that He calls us ever deeper into relationship with Him. If we stop pursuing Him, or stop pursuing Him deeply enough, we will again experience that restlessness. In fact, as the second reading for the Vigil points out, all of creation is groaning and in travail, awaiting redemption. But if we open ourselves to Him, His promise is that He makes available, not a trickle, or a small stream, but a river, a river of living water! This river quenches our restless hearts; and, as St. John points out, that river is in fact a Person, the Person of the Holy Spirit.
The great gift of Pentecost is not simply the different gifts that the Spirit lavishes on us, as useful and wonderful as they are; the greatest gift is that we receive the Giver Himself! And in the ultimate ‘package deal,’ to receive the Holy Spirit brings us closer to the Lord Jesus, Who then leads us to a deeper relationship with His Father. This river of the Spirit that is the Pentecost event brings us into deeper union with the Triune God, as the Divine Persons invite us to share Their very life.
As we enter more deeply into that river, or, perhaps we should say, as we let that river enter more deeply into us, what is the result? We see on Pentecost, that great flood of the Holy Spirit filled the lives of those in the Upper Room and their immediate impulse was to share that river, share the fire that they experienced. Without a moment’s hesitation, they leave that Upper Room and immediately share with others what they had received: deeper friendship and union with the Triune God. Thus they fulfilled, for the first time, that call on their lives given to them by the Lord Jesus shortly before His Ascension, in which He commissioned them to make disciples. We too have received that commission to go and make disciples and the more we enter into Pentecost, the more we are empowered to do just that. How we do that takes many forms, and we need to be sensitive to the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit—it may be as simple as a smile and a “God bless you” to someone, or a gentle invitation to them to come and experience Alpha, or it may be a serious conversation about the King of Kings. One of the great gifts of the Spirit is that gift of discernment, so that we can always better hear that still small voice as He guides us, and guide us He will! Even so, come Lord Jesus! -Fr. Ed