A Meditaion on Pentecost Sunday Gospel Readings

A Meditation on Gospel Readings on Pentecost (Posted in ICON)

There are four Gospel readings
prescribed for the Sunday of Pentecost. The first one of course is for the H.
Qurbono which is from St. John 15:1-14. The other three are for the kneeling and
all of them from the Gospel according to St. John; first, 14:1-14, second
14:25-31 and third 16-1-15.  Jesus after
having had his last supper with his disciple, is trying to educate them of the
things that they should be aware of in the days to come after his death.
Chapter 17 onwards Jesus addresses his Father and presents the disciples and
with them all those who will come to him by the testimony of the disciples. So
what is seen in these chapters can be said as his farewell message. Jesus through
his words on the one hand, comforts the disciples and on the other, exhorts
them to be strong to face future when he was not physically around. He also
speaks about the gift of the Spirit which will enable them face future.

Taking all the four readings
together, a theme is presented before the congregation by the Church. It can be
put it in one word, ‘relationship’; relationship between God the Father, the
the Son and the Holy Spirit and with the life of humans in relationship. From
the kind of relationship exists between the Holy Trinity, Jesus derives a model
for the human relationship. This is a unique kind of methodology. We humans
derive models for our life in this world from Godhead and the relationship that
exists within Godhead (H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios Thirumeni has
written so much about this). Christian faith in the Holy Trinity is not just a
talk about some philosophical theory, rather it is the talk about a model,
inspiration and guide for our lives in this world.

In the reading in John 15:1-14, Jesus talks about his
relation with his Father and with us. This has consequence on our relation with
God and on our Christ centered lives. The principle that underlies all
relationships is nothing but love. Where there is love in relationship there
will be peace. When love governs relationships, peace would rule the arena. The
world will not be ‘worldly’ any more. Jesus is going to the Father and through
that he on behalf of and as the first of all humans transcends the world. But
for humans what Jesus achieved through his death and resurrection can be
achieved in its fullness only in future. To make this future possibility a
reality, one has to be in close relationship with Jesus (‘abide in me’) and
through him with his Father. If one is not in Jesus, that person is not with
the Father, and if not with the Father, is out of relationship and fellowship.
This means non existence of that person. For us to be with Jesus now can only
be by the help and empowering of the Holy Spirit. This is where Orthodox
definition of sacrament becomes relevant. To us 
a sacrament is “Entering in to the presence of the Father through Jesus
Christ, the Son of God in Holy Spirit”. Every act in our life need to be an act
in this style and only then we will truly be sanctified or divinized. To this cause,
Jesus had to go away. This has two implications; one, he had to go away to the
cross and two, to go away beyond this material world. One cannot cling on to
the historical Jesus and be saved; because history is of the physical realm
which cannot as such, unless transformed, enter in to eternity (1Cor.
15:42-54). Hence we also need to go through a process of dying as Jesus did,
that is die to the world and be resurrected or become spiritual people. For us
it can be done even while we are in this world. We can die to the world and
live to Christ even while we are in the world (Rom. 14:8). When we die to the
world, we will also be renewed in Spirit. This is what Jesus was telling
Nicodemus when he asked Jesus about eternal life. We need to constantly be dying
or being washed and be filled or resurrected in Christ (in Spirit) by the Holy
Spirit (John 3:5).

In the liturgy of Pentecost we are, liturgically taking on
ourselves this process of dying and filling. When we kneel down, we try to put
away what is to death or sin in us and when we rise up and sprinkled with
water, we are renewed in Spirit. This can happen only in the context of a
community and not in isolation as love can work only in between and not in
self. Only when there is another than the one and only when the relationship
between is guided by the principle of love this washing and filling will
happen. This is why Jesus on another occasion, said “when two or three are
gathered together, I am in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). The word ‘together’ is
very important in this context. The narration in the Book of Acts of the
Apostle about the event of Pentecost clearly says “When they were all with one
accord …” (Acts 2:1) the Holy Spirit descended on them. Holy Spirit works when
we are at peace with one another and peace can prevail only when there is love
which binds people together. The day of Pentecost, of course is the day of the
renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But it does not magically or
automatically happen. It can happen only when we love each other and when we
are at peace between one another. A world which is divided for all kinds of
wrong reasons, and a world guided by selfishness, greed and individualism, a world
troubled by wars, hatred, in-fight and quarrels need to listen to the message
of Pentecost.

We all look for progress and welfare in our lives and in our
environment. We all ask, “what is the way out”? We ask how can freedom,
liberation and salvation happen and how can ‘I’ enjoy it for myself? The answer
was already been given to Nicodemus saying, ‘die to the world and be filled
with the empowering Spirit’, set love as the principle that guides
relationships, and peace be established every where. Just as the Father and the
Son and the Spirit are one, let us be one with God and with one another. “Let
us all rise up (from the valley of death and of darkness) by the power of the
Holy Spirit” and transform ourselves.

Yuhanon Mor Meletius Metropolitan, Thrissur