Acts 11:19-26, 29-30
John 4:5-42

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! We have a wonderful link provided this morning between our Epistle and our Gospel readings. The Epistle introduces a theme, in the final sentence, that our Lord then explains in the Gospel reading. In the Epistle reading this morning, St. Luke writes that the disciples were traveling around and preaching the Gospel and working miracles in Christ’s name, and the reading ended, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Christ then tells us what it means to be a Christian, and He doesn’t mention miracle working or financial well-being or anything of that sort. Christ says to the Samaritan woman at the well, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

To be a Christian is to drink from the water of life. We’re supposed to be the ones who never thirst again, but have a fountain of water springing up in us unto everlasting life. As Christ says in the Gospel we read for Holy Pentecost: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

“What is it to be a Christian?” is a question that we could answer many ways. A believer in Christ, a little Christ, a follower of the Gospel commandments. And this morning our Lord gives us a crucial part of our answer—to be a Christian means to have the Holy Spirit living in us. Some of our Fathers will make a shockingly bold statement, and say that all the work of Christ was to prepare the way for the coming of the Holy Spirit. God lives in Christians in a way made possible only through Christ. In a way never experienced by mankind before the Incarnation. When we’re baptized into Christ, and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in chrismation, we’re given a new source of life from within. When Christ pours out the Holy Spirit on us, we’re filled with eternal and new life. Do we even understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit? God the Spirit comes to live in us! He makes His abode in us, with the Father and the Son. The life of the Holy Spirit within us makes us to be children of God. We share a kinship with God the Father, in the Incarnate Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The problem is, we often ignore the reality of this indwelling of Holy Spirit. We forget that we’re called to live as sons of God, and we find ourselves living like the Prodigal Son. We find ourselves making our home in a place that’s not our home, and we find ourselves following the customs and ways of a people that aren’t our people. It’s so easy for us to forget our True Father is God. We’re surrounded by so much that tears us away from Christ, and it’s hard for us to remember that we’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit and eternal life by our participation in the death and resurrection of our Saviour.

Christ told the Samaritan woman that she would thirst no more if she drank of the water that He offered. Why do we, as Christians who have partaken of the water that Christ gives, why do we still thirst for the things of this world? Because we don’t drink deeply from the well that springs up within us. Why would we abandon the offerings of this world—this that we know bring us a temporary pleasure—why would we abandon these things we know if we don’t have something to replace it? We don’t just give up the sins of the flesh; our experience of God makes us no longer thirst for things of the world—our only hunger and thirst is for God, and this thirst is eternally fulfilled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Just because we’ve been given the gift of the Holy Spirit in our baptism and chrismation, that’s not the end. St. Seraphim of Sarov said that the purpose of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. All of the work of Christ was in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit, to inaugurate a new level of relationship between God and man. And our lives are spent learning to live in this new relationship. In Holy Communion we’re filled with the presence of God, but we frequently lose it because of our weakness and our sinfulness. As Christians, we always have the Holy Spirit, but we frequently push Him away, we frequently silence Him, we lose the grace that His presence in us brings, sometimes by accident and sometimes even willingly.

This is the purpose of the ascetic life…this is why Christ gave commandments, and why the Church also gives us guidelines to follow in life. To make us more sensitive to the activity of God in our lives. To help us listen to the Holy Spirit guiding us from within. Like any human relationship, our relationship with Christ requires a constant effort, and a constant giving of myself to the other, to Christ.

Our goal as Christians is to be so consumed by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us that we no longer thirst for the ways of the world, but our entire being is constantly attentive to the will and the presence of God.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

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