Today the Orthodox Church Celebrates Mid-Pentecost

The feast of Mid-Pentecost falls halfway between Pascha and Pentecost.  It is a service of anticipation.  The hymns of the service focus much less on Pascha and the Resurrection as they do on the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Although Pascha is the Feast of Feasts, Pentecost is the celebration of our full participation in the Mystery of the resurrected Life.  The main metaphor used throughout the feast of Mid-Pentecost is water.

When Mid-feast was come, Jesus went up into the temple and taught the disobedient people, saying: He that thirsts, let him come unto Me and drink living and everlasting water, and he shall never thirst unto eternity. He that believes in Me, rivers shall flow from his innermost being, and he shall have the Light of Life.

For all that Christ accomplished for our salvation at Pascha, it remains still for us to receive it.  And for us to receive the resurrected Life, we have to thirst for it.  All of the blessings and gifts and graces of heaven are ours through Christ, but God will not force them on us.  God will only give us the heavenly gifts if we thirst for them.  

This is probably the reason why Jesus usually asked someone if they wanted to be healed.  It seems strange to us that Jesus would ask someone who had been sick a long time whether or not they wanted to be healed.  But keep in mind, all physical healings and miracles are signs.  Miracles are never an end in themselves.  Miracles in the physical world that we can easily see are signs pointing us to spiritual realities that we cannot easily see.  Last Sunday, Jesus asked the man lame for 38 years if he wanted to be healed.  Today at the feast of Mid-Pentecost, Jesus is asking us if we are thirsty, thirsty for the Light of Life.

And so this is the question we must all ask our selves: Do we really want to be saved?  Do we thirst for heavenly Life?  Are we sick and tired of being spiritually blind and lame, of running into the same spiritual walls, same besetting sins, same failures again and again?  Are we ready to humble ourselves and confess our need, to cry out to God: “I have sinned, have mercy on me”?  If we are willing, we are ready for Pentecost.

The Gospel reading for Mid-Pentecost comes from John 7, which contains the readings for both Mid-Pentecost and Pentecost.  At verse 17, which we read today, Jesus says,

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching, whether it is from God.”

In the world, we want to know first and then decide.  We gather all of the information about something, and then we make a decision.  However, that is not how things work in our relationship with God.  With God, first we decide, first we will to do His will; then we know, then we understand.  For many of us, this is very difficult.  It’s hard to trust as a little child.

But this is why hunger and thirst are such useful metaphors.  When you are hungry enough.  When you are thirsty enough.  When you are fully convinced of your own inability to take up the bed of your lazy, sinful and broken life and walk in the Light of the Resurrection, then, like the Blind Man (John 9: 7), you are ready and willing to do what you are told.  Then you are ready to do God’s will—whatever it is.  And in doing, you begin to know; just as the blind man in obeying began to see.

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