Christ is Risen!
Today is the eve of the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Church which calls to our attention the fact that one half of the time between Pascha and Pentecost has now passed. The Holy Spirit will come soon to establish the Church, to make it "firm" and secure for all time!
This past Sunday we commemorated our Lord's healing of the paralytic at the Sheep's Pool - at Bethesda (which in Hebrew means 'house of kindness'). It was there that divine healing could be found for those in need if they entered the waters "when they became troubled," or when by tradition an angel was sent to stir those waters.
In the Gospel reading for this current day (John 7:14-30) we find our Lord having moved from Bethesda to the Temple, "in the middle of the Feast." This was the Feast of Tabernacles, which which the Jews celebrate each year to remember God's provision for them as they wandered in the desert for forty years, but also to look ahead to the day when God would restore the nation to Israel, and all would gather at Jerusalem to worship God in truth.
It is with this backdrop that we find our Lord ''teaching" the teachers of Israel, to such a great extent does Jesus teach them that they are astonished. "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" Our Lord engages His detractors, accusing them of seeking to kill Him, and they in turn accusing Him of "having a demon."
The One who fed them in the desert stands before them, and they refuse to recognize or acknowledge Him. The One who promised to return them to Jerusalem speaks with them, and they deny Him and make accusations against Him - even as they celebrate a feast to 'honor' Him.
Several verses after the end of today's Gospel, but still in Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Saint John, our Lord says these words: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink."
This coming Sunday will be the commemoration of the Samaritan woman, where our Lord meets St. Photini at Jacob's well. There He asks her for water, and then promises to her (and delivers to her) "living water."
On the following Sunday we will remember the blind man (Bartameus), who receives his sight by washing "in the pool of Siloam."
We have incidents of water, and water, and water, and water. Why?
Because we, like the Apostles in these days who were waiting (and being prepared by our Lord) for the Holy Spirit, will come to our "baptisms", will come to receiving the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us by water and prayer and anointing, which came to the Apostles by the descent of tongues of fire, and which fills the Church with LIFE.
One thing is constant for all that we know of life. Life cannot exist without water. That is physical life. That is temporal life.
But eternal life also must be filled with the water of the Spirit of God, must be founded in that which is the creative force of God, His eternal Spirit, linking us to Him so that we share in His eternal nature.
Water is important! At this 'feast' of Mid-Pentecost, the Church (in Her love for us and in Her wisdom) gives us the repeated gift of focusing us on that 'living water' that our Lord promised - not only to St. Photini (the Samaritan Woman), but to His Bride, the Church, for all time!
Christ is Risen!