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Homily for 6/19/05 - Pentecost

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  • David Moser
    John 7:37-52; 8:12 The descent of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost is considered to be the beginning of the Church as the Body of Christ. Certainly
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 19, 2005
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      John 7:37-52; 8:12

      The descent of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost is considered to be
      the beginning of the Church as the Body of Christ. Certainly the Church as
      a community of believers existed even from the time of the creation of the
      world and mankind, but as the mystical Body of Christ it only began when the
      Holy Spirit descended upon and dwelt within the believers at Pentecost.

      In the Gospel today we heard how Jesus Christ promised the coming of the
      Holy Spirit, speaking in terms of living water. He promised that from those
      who believed on Him would flow rivers of living water and then the
      Evangelist clarifies for us that He spoke here about the Holy Spirit, Who
      would be poured out upon the believers but that at that time He had not yet
      been sent because Christ had not yet been glorified. Now this is important
      for us to note that the Holy Spirit was not sent to dwell in the world until
      after Jesus Christ ascended to the Father. This does not mean, says St
      Nikolai Velimirovic that the Holy Spirit was not present in the world, for
      He was indeed present with Christ. The Holy Spirit dwelt within Christ,
      just as He now dwells within us. As long as Jesus Christ was bodily present
      in the world, He was the temple of the Holy Spirit in the world, but after
      He ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell within the Body
      of Christ in the world, that is the Church. The Holy Spirit is given to us
      when we are united to Christ for we are part of the Body of Christ in the
      world. This is a wonderful thing to contemplate and realize that God dwells
      in you and that because the Holy Spirit dwells within you, you become the
      Body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Here we are united to God,
      not by any artificial means or by some strange legalistic maneuvering, but
      because God Himself has chosen to unite Himself to us - we have been drawn
      into an organic, living and integral union with God.

      Now we return to the words of our Lord Who said, "from their bellies shall
      flow rivers of living water". This too is amazing for not only are we
      united with Christ, but we become the instruments by which His love and His
      grace flood the whole world. The Holy Spirit does not just fill us - but
      dwelling within us and having filled us, He flows out from us to the world.
      This is how God acts in the world - through His Body - through the Church -
      through you and me.

      For a moment think of your own self. Your soul is full of thoughts and
      emotions and desires but these thoughts and emotions and desires do not have
      a direct impact on the world - they must be actualized by your body. Your
      thoughts, emotions and desires are given form and shape and "reality" in the
      world by the words and actions of your body. So it is with the Holy Spirit.
      He certainly could act directly in the world (as evidenced by the miracle of
      the creation of the world) however He chooses to act through His Body -
      through the Church. Even before the Church was established, the Holy Spirit
      acted in the world through believers, prophets, who were overshadowed by the
      Holy Spirit as by a garment. Moses performed many miracles and parted the
      Red Sea; the Prophet Elijah sealed the heavens and then opened them again at
      the command of God; the Prophet Elias raised the dead son of the Shunammite
      woman; there is no end to such examples. The Holy Spirit worked through the
      cooperation of a person who for a moment acted in complete synergy and
      cooperation with the will and power of God. But then, as one removes a
      garment, so the Holy Spirit withdrew and did not remain dwelling within the
      prophets. However, after the incarnation of Christ and His Resurrection
      and Ascension the Holy Spirit came not to "overshadow" us, but to dwell
      within us and to work through us to bring the grace of God to the world.

      What a wonderful thing this is, that God not only dwells in us, bringing us
      into union with Himself, but He also works through us, drawing the whole
      world into that same union with Himself. God loves the world and through
      us, that love finds expression. God pours out his grace on us and we in
      turn are the means by which that grace is spread throughout the world. God
      touches us and through us our brother, our neighbor, even our enemy is
      touched by Him.

      This action of the grace of God has a particular effect on us as well. The
      Gospel says that from our *bellies* will flow rivers of living water. Now
      the fathers speak of this equating the word "belly" with "body" and even in
      some cases speaking particularly of the heart. The heart is indeed the
      center of the soul where our spirit and the Holy Spirit are united and so it
      is proper to speak of this river finding its source and origin in the heart.
      However the belly is also the seat of the passions and the desires of the
      body. How is it that this river is spoken of as flowing from the belly and
      not the heart? The reason is that by the grace of the indwelling Holy
      Spirit, we cannot remain unchanged. As we cooperate with God, as we align
      ourselves with Him and enter into a harmony and synergy with Him we are
      sanctified and transformed. The passions are cleansed by the presence of
      the Holy Spirit and the whole body is sanctified and made holy. This we see
      most clearly in the bodies of the saints which become the source of many
      miracles and some of which remain incorrupt - having been freed from the
      effects of corruption to which we were subjected as a result of the fall.

      When the Holy Spirit dwells in us and when we align ourselves with Him,
      entering fully into union with God, then the belly is no longer the seat of
      passions which tempt us and pull us away from God - but even this, the
      center of our fallen passionate nature, becomes instead the source of God's

      On this day, the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the
      Apostles, not to overshadow them like a garment, but to enter into them, to
      dwell within them, to unite them to God. Through this great miracle they,
      and indeed all of us who have received the Holy Spirit in chrismation - that
      is the Church, have become the Body of Christ. Though His Body - through
      us - God touches the world and pours His grace upon all mankind. And we,
      who have united ourselves to Christ, who have the Holy Spirit dwelling
      within us, are being changed, transformed - even transfigured - into the
      image and likeness of Christ. We, who have put on Christ are united with
      Him by His Holy Spirit, becoming holy, sanctified, and a fountain of living
      water to the whole world.
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