Sermon of Bishop JOB on day of Pentecost May 2015.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Congratulations on the great feast of Pentecost, also called the Day of the Holy Trinity, the descent of the Holy Spirit, or the birth of Christ’s Church!
This great feast is truly a celebration of spiritual unity of all people belonging to the Church of Christ. As it is said in today’s Kondakion “When the Most High descended, He blessed the tongues, dividing the nations; but when He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all into Unity; wherefore, with one accord, we glorify the All Holy Spirit”, when God the Father gave the apostles the fiery tongues of the Holy Spirit, all the people were called to be united in the Church of Christ.
The Holy Spirit brought together the disciples into a single spiritual body of Christ, and the Church was formed. On this day the Church unites believers of all nationalities throughout the world with each other and Heaven. Everyone who heard the preaching of the Apostles on that day, heard it in their native languages.
The Holy Spirit descended in the form of tongues of fire in order to burn all impurity and sinfulness from the hearts of all believers. Also, the fiery flame of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we should strive to burn with a sacrificial love for God and people, so that our souls and hearts may shine with the light of grace. By tongues of fire, Christ’s disciples were completely reborn.
They began to glow from within with the joy of the Holy Spirit. If the Apostles had not received the Holy Spirit, and had not lived in communion with the Spirit of God, the world would never had heard the Gospel. In order to inherit eternal life it is not enough to go to church of Sundays and to believe in Christ. To become saints, and to overcome the demons, it is necessary to get the power of the Holy Spirit. Christianity without the Holy Spirit is not Orthodoxy.
What must we do in order to get the grace of the Holy Spirit?
First. Our soul must be clean and free. When we are about to receive a dear guest, we clean our house and prepare the best food. No one receives a guest with dirty dishes littering the kitchen. The Holy Spirit must be received as the dearest guest. It is not up to the Holy Spirit to cleanse our soul so that we can feel good.
The Lord is ready to help us, but without our participation our soul will not be pure. Each one of us will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit proportionately to the amount of effort we put in. To use another example, when a container is full of liquid, nothing else can be poured into it. First you must poor out the old, wash and clean, then you can poor something else into it.
Likewise with the gift of the Holy Spirit, first you must cleanse your soul. It is very complicated to do this on our own. This is why, we ask God to “cleanse us from all impurity”, help us to become clean; then the Holy Spirit can fill us with grace.
Second. Our soul must be whole and intact. At church and at home we must strive to be like the Apostles were on the eve of Pentecost, be UNANIMOUS. Liquid can not be kept in a cracked container. It would slowly leak through the cracks. Likewise, the grace o the Holy Spirit can not be kept in a soul where there is enmity and hatred.
The unanimity and love which reigned among the Apostles stunned people. Many people, looking at them, said “See how they love one another” and themselves became Christians. The Apostles and early Christians were like children. And children, even if they belong to different nationalities and speak different languages, communicate with ease and play with each other. Children easily learn a new language.
If we become like children, full of love and simplicity, the Holy Spirit will help us understand the words of the Bible and the teachings of Christ, as well as learn the most perfect and eternal language, the language of love.
How do you know a man is full of the grace of the Holy Spirit? Saint Silouan, a twentieth century saint, said “If a man loves his enemies – then he courts the Holy Spirit”. Such a real spiritual person knows how to forgive an enemy, how to tolerate injustice, and how to refrain from blasphemy and condemnation.
On this festive day we decorate our homes and churches traditionally with green branches of trees and flowers; this is to remind us that the feast of the Holy Spirit is actually the feast of Eternal life.
More importantly we must strive to embellish our hearts and souls in order to receive the power of the spirit of God. Let us cleanse our souls through repentance and prayer, let us fill our souls with the love of of our neighbors and good deeds. Then the Holy Spirit will dwell in us. Amen!
SOURCE: Holy Trinity Russo-Greek Orthodox Church, Wostok. 31 May, 2015.
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