Drink a New Drink

Rev. Father Thomas Zaferes,

The Gospel lesson for the Sunday of Pentecost is taken from John 7:37-52; 8:12. A portion of it says: “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”. (John 7:37)  Jesus delivers this message while He is in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. This was the Jewish feast of Pentecost (50 days after the feast of Passover). The celebration concluded with a ceremony of water being carried from the pool of Siloam and pouring it out as an offering in the Temple. It recalls the miracle of Moses recorded in Exodus 17:1-7: The Hebrews are wandering in the wilderness and are in need of water, Moses strikes a rock and miraculously water gushes forth. It is in this context our Lord speaks the words quoted above.

Typically, while Jesus was in Jerusalem during a feast, he would sit and teach the people. However, at this time He stands up and cries out, “If anyone thirsts let him come to me…” This is more than a teaching; it is an announcement, a proclamation, a declaration and an invitation to come and find the life that is in Him! He is, as we read in various places of the Gospel of St. John, the Way, the Truth, the Light and the Life. He invites all of us to participate in Him and in true life.

The imagery of water is a very powerful image in the Middle East. Water was a matter of life or death! Our Lord likens His invitation to the level of life and death. Our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows that we will never find peace or joy or contentment without Him. Thus He invites us to drink of the waters that only He can provide. He teaches this to the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-26): “...but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up even into everlasting life.” This is echoed in one of the beautiful hymns of Pascha that ties the story in Exodus to the resurrection of Christ: Come, let us drink a new drink, not one marvelously brought forth from a barren rock, but [from] the source of incorruption, which springs forth from the grave of Christ, in Whom we are established. 

The key to tapping into the water is the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in her Mysteries that communicates to us the Life in Christ. Again from the Gospel of John we learn that: “when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” The Holy Spirit will communicate and confirm the saving message of Jesus Christ. He will make it available to the entire world, and to each of us who is willing to partake of it! The Holy Spirit is the cup that allows us to drink of the water of Life. And, the Holy Spirit is the spring where we come to partake of and drink in the grace of God.

In and through the descent of the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit’s abiding and remaining in the Church we experience the water that springs up to eternal life. May His presence be with you always! 

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