My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On the Feast of the Monday after Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit, the third “person” of the Godhead and we commemorate the Holy Spirit’s power to “make the fisherman wise and through them illumine the whole world.” This is the “Seal and the Gift” of the Holy Spirit we receive through Chrismation, my brothers and sisters. This is what unites us all to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, for it is the Spirit that moves the Church to Christ through us. While the Holy Spirit may push non-Orthodox towards good deeds and Christ, the Spirit moves inside of us. This fulfills the words of Christ in John Chapter 4:14 “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
` Thus, it is the Holy Spirit that has become the fruit of prayer and fasting that Jesus Christ mentions in Mark 9:29. Recall the story of the demon possessed boy
“So He [Jesus Christ] asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
And he said, “From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
The fire and water are the chief tools used by the evil one to DESTROY US. Fire is our passions. Picture a candle with a flame out of control. It will melt the wax quickly and burn up everything. These passions are gluttony; sloth; wrath; greed; lust; envy; and the most deadly of all, pride. Any one of these can spiral out of control to destroy us . Water is the cares of this world that seek to drown us in worry, stress, and fear. These can only be cast out through prayer and fasting.
Casting out calls to mind emptying a glass of water. What do we then fill the glass with so that we will not be like the poor soul Jesus mentions in Matthew 12:43-45?
43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Casting out the impure passions is not enough. We must fill the house (glass of water) with something else so that there is no room for the demons to return. We must fill it with the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness . . .” (Galatians 5:22). These fruits can only be acquired through prayer and fasting. It is no coincidence that Paul combats the seven deadly sins with these virtues. If we acquire these we will escape judgment, for “against such there is no law.”
If we fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit we will have that water welling up to eternal life. We will be filled with courage, power from on high and Divine knowledge. “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11); and “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit is and has always been the antithesis of the destructive FIRE and WATER. “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:21). It can be understood why, in the Holy Scriptures the Holy Spirit has appeared as Fire
- The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2)
- The Tower of Flame leading the Israelites (Exodus 13:21)
- The Fire of Elijah (1 King 18:38)
- The Tongues of Fire over the Apostles (Acts of the Apostles 2:2)
- The revealing Fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
And as Water
- The Tower of Cloud leading the Israelites (Exodus 3:2)
- As a water for the thirsty (Isaiah 44:3)
- As a well unto eternal life (John 4:14)
- As the Cloud on Mt. Tabor at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36)
- As the Cloud carrying the Savior up at Ascension (Acts of the Apostles 1:9)
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Let us fill the measure of our Baptism, for we were Baptized in Water and Spirit. Let us acquire through prayers and fasting the sweet fruits of the Holy Spirit. Let us be full of Him, that we can take on the attributes of Holy Fire so that we will not be burned in the Last Day, but be partakers in Divinity. Let us, like the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be united in love and concord. Let us be “one” even as “THEY” are one.
“God became man, so that man could become like God…” – St. Athanasios
I remain your servant in Christ,
Fr. Dimitri Tobias, Proistamenos