ON THE LAST DAY, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and exclaimed, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me, and let those who believe in Me drink. Those who believe in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘Out of the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit, which believers in Him were to receive, for as yet the Holy Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some asked, “Will the Christ come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of Jesus. Some of them wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
Then the Temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest Him?” The guards answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Are you also deceived? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd, which does not know the Law - they are accursed.”
Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, and who was one of the Pharisees, asked, “Does our Law judge people before hearing them to find out what they are doing?” They replied, “Are you also from Galilee? Search the Scripture and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”
And again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Those who follow Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Glory to Jesus Christ!
There is one small phrase in the Gospel reading for this Sunday that I would like to reflect on today. This phrase tells us a lot about the nature of Jesus, and hence the nature of God. There are a few such phrases throughout the Gospel, where we get a peek at Christ's character.
And the phrase is "...for as yet the Holy Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." The second part is what stands out the most to me - Jesus was not yet glorified, therefore He had not given the Holy Spirit to His followers. This demonstrates the fact that Jesus knew His mission very well. He did not rush through things. He did not come in with unwarranted conclusions. He did not seek to finish His mission as soon as possible and be done with it. He spent three years of active public ministry. He lived among His disciples, taught, preached, healed, and led by personal example.
On a few occasions the Lord is quoted saying, "My time has not yet come..." or "the hour is near..." (but not yet here). He knew what He needed to do and He did it methodically. What was to stop Christ from being crucified at the beginning of His public ministry? Nothing. Could He have given the Holy Spirit to His disciples a lot sooner? Of course. There are a bunch of reasons why He did what He did and when He did it. But one of the main reasons was time. Jesus was not yet glorified (in this case the reference is to His ascension), so He did not give the Holy Spirit.
It's not only about doing the right thing, it's doing the right thing at the right time. And this is a very valuable lesson for us, especially today, with the coronavirus pandemic, with the quarantine, with the protests, riots, and looting, with the violence and hatred going on all around us.
As much as we would love to go back to "normal," to the way things were before the lockdown, we need to keep in mind this simple lesson from our Lord - do not rush. Do not rush into action, the pandemic may be subsiding, but we are not yet scot-free. Do not rush to judgement of those who protest, unless you know what it is like to lose a loved one to violence or someone's brutality. Do not rush to condemnation of people who do not look like you, or act like you, or act the way you wish them to act.
The time will come when we will get past all these things, but that time is clearly not yet here. The time will come when we will be able to evaluate everything that has happened in 2020, and hopefully learn something. But that time is not yet here. The time for now is to focus on helping each other. The time for now is for prayer. The time for now is to make difference in the only place we can make an actual difference - our own souls.
For last year's reflection, click here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest