The John 7 gospel for Pentecost speaks to us of a river or a holy stream of blessing. Jesus said that when the Spirit was poured forth, it would be an experience of Living Water. Living Water is a code name for the Holy Spirit. Hear the Good News today: Jesus says He came so we could drink of His God’s Spirit, even as He did: “Let anybody who is thirsty, come and drink …(of) the streams of living water… Whoever believes in Me will have this Water of Life flowing from within them.”’
Jesus is just not referring to our Baptism version of getting the Spirit, but also of receiving the ongoing power of renewal by His Holy Spirit. The Spirit has a lot of refreshing new life He intends to give us. He wants to water our dryness, cool and calm our anxieties, and show us the new life power in us.
On this Pentecost Sunday, I reflect on all the water that has fallen upon us in Maryland the past few days, and, as I go over to Great Falls Park in Virginia later on the feast afternoon, I will be looking to see the power of the water rushing down of the Potomac River, barreling and cascading and pushing everything in its unstoppable force.
Water can be powerful, even when it falls in a few droplets, too. I was thinking of what the power of a portion of water can do to a desert plant, as my witness to a plant that exists in the southwest USA which I’ve seen a few times. There is this plant called “the Resurrection plant” from West Texas to Arizona, and it is part of the spikemoss family. When dry, it is alive but it looks like a rolled up browned banana peel in the sand. It is a botanical curiosity in that it can live in the desert on very little water, and remains alive as a brownish dry moss, being all curled up when without moisture. Yet when it receives even a little bit of water, the plant begins to thrive. The plant leaves open up in bloom and goes into deep greens and it gives of an herbal scent reminiscent of rosemary. Its leaf blossoms shares great medicinal healing properties, too, when grown, making it a special plant.
It is quite fascinating to me, and it reminds me of a Christian, who can turn quite significantly to the better and into a blessing when they receive the Living Water of God’s Spirit, even in small supplies, much can happen.
So, brothers and sisters, we can long for the same Life-Giving Water of the Holy Spirit today, and live like the desert flower of our name: The Resurrection Plant? Can we get to a deep-green life and thrive? Can we offer the medicine of the spiritual life via our renewal? Let’s hope so. Jesus asks us to thirst and receive the living water, and be His Resurrection parish.
So, that’s my first point, of how the Living Water can make us thrive.
My second point is giving a pointer on how to get that water.
Why not pray an inviting prayer to God, such as this: “Oh, that I could be a better Christian today!” Here, then, is a prayer and request that the Holy Spirit can really do something with over us and within us. “Oh, that I could be a better Christian today!”
I call that a risky prayer, and a true prayer of faith—because it invites God to be more accepted into your life. By such words, you are indicating openness for your Catholic life to grow. Yet, watch out if you pray it, because God may take you seriously. He wants you a better Christian, though he loves you today in where you are. Yet He wants to lead you to much more, even the abundant life in The Spirit. This prayer of “Oh, that I could be a better Christian today” is a good simple morning offering. It is also quite apropos for Pentecost time.
When I say the prayer asks for God to be more accepted, I mean to say that it is a prayer of accepting more of God’s reign in us. Reign as in r-e-i-g-n. He is thus more invited in, as Our Lord, so that, God may be more engaged and at work in you or I in an ongoing conversion.
Let’s be frank, we have much to surrender over to God in our lives still, even if we fundamentally are a professed Christian. Today is a good day to acknowledge it.
I was watching EWTN film coverage of a Catholic young-adult conference called “SEEK.” The whole conference theme was on this kind of seeking faith, of inviting young people into growing into better todays and tomorrows with Jesus. Great! One of the songs popular with the conference goers was “I Thirst” by Katy Blythe. That’s what we’re talking about right here. Saying “I Thirst” to God.
Speaking of songs, our parish is hosting a classic songs/oldies concert on June 10th. Connected to that, and of getting what songs might be covered, I recently re-heard a classic love song that sings of such an openness to love and its growth. It is from Spiral Staircase, with these words: “I love you more today, than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow… and everyday’s a new day, in love with you, with each day comes a new way of loving you…I thank the Lord for a love like this that grows ever stronger, and if all my dreams come true, I’ll be spending time (them) with you, and I love you more today than yesterday…”
Here’s a truth: God comes to souls who are seeking Him. So sing a song of life like that. Pray: “Can I love you more today, than yesterday? Can I thirst for that?!” Or, if said as a wish and a prayer: “Oh, that I could be a better Christian today!” That kind of honest prayer opens the door, on our side, to The Lord.
In my third point, I take you to a Bible verse about opening doors. It is from Revelations 3:20, as written by the apostle John to one of his church communities who were getting-lukewarm in faith, so he wrote them some exhortation. He had visions of Jesus in Heaven and of the Lord speaking to this Laodicean church (the luke warm folks), announcing: “Here I am! I stand at the door and am knocking. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in…”
These words that St. John hears from Jesus are shared to people who were already believers, in a church area in Asia Minor. So, Jesus isn’t asking for the door to getting saved to be opened. They had done that. So what door is Jesus speaking about to this church? It is of the next door, the next step, the next level, the new day, the new deeper life of today, the fresh experience of God—not just the starting out experience of yesterday. It is God saying to that people, or to us, I want to get to know you better, not just at the front porch or front door, nor even just of the foyer of your lives, nor just the living room, but for your whole self to open up to the Kingdom of God experience.
The end result of such an openness to God is given in the finish of that verse. It is that we could sup together with the Lord at His table, and each share of ourselves to one another. Rev. 3:1,19, and 20 “’ To the assembly in Laodicea write: “The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Head of God’s creation, says to you: …As many as I love, I do convict and chasten; so I ask you to be earnest and zealous, then, and reform and be renewed; for, Here I am! I stand at the door and am knocking. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in unto him/her and sup with them, and they with Me.”
In that message to Laodicea, God is asking to be invited further in and to the supper table, while the Laodicean Christians knowingly have been keeping God’s influence quite out of their lives, due to indifference, lack of priorities, and their trying to obtain worldly wealth and security, but all to the expense of their faith.
Let’s not make the same mistake as they. Let’s open the knob of the door on our side, in our will, and say “Yes” to what God wants to do next in us, whether in love or action or prayer or tithing or church involvement. Amen.