‘On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”’ (John 7:37-38)
Are we guilty of hoarding the Good News of the Gospels to ourselves? How many of us have been transformed utterly from within by the power of the Holy Spirit, acknowledged our sins, asked for help, repented, and accepted God’s grace, guaranteeing the eternal salvation of our immortal souls…and kept it to ourselves?
The grieving lament of Jesus at this egregious impotence of faith and wasted potential for the advancement of the Gospels must surely make even the vault of Heaven groan in anguish. It is the equivalent of discovering the winning lottery numbers, scoring the jackpot…and then telling absolutely no one and, worse still, sharing your bounty with no one. What use are riches without sharing them to the benefit of others?
How can we possibly enrich our lives if we do nothing to enrich the lives of others when we ascend to an awareness of the most profound revelation in all of Creation – the Good News of the Gospels of Jesus Christ? We can only achieve this by sharing all we have, every one of our spiritual riches, for the greater the bounty we give out to others, the richer we become.
God has a two-fold plan for us. Plan A: awakening in us the truth of the Word, preparing our spirit to receive the Holy Spirit, freely clothing us in grace that we might know joy in this life and, beyond salvation, ecstasy in the next through His Son. But from this must necessarily come Plan B: we give thanks to our Redeemer for this magnificent, life-giving largesse by spreading the Good News to all insofar as it is within our power to cast the net far and wide and become fishers of men through the divinely conferred charism of Christ which draws the lost, the seeking, the curious and the fallen alike.
When Jesus excites our spirit and plants within the core of our brimming hearts the compelling urge to live in, through and for Him, our instantaneous response should be the recognition that it was not for us alone, but that we must be shared with all, with the corollary that we are impelled to action. We cannot allow ourselves to become so heavenly-minded that we are of no practical use on earth – that would be to negate our Father’s heavenly purpose for us, drawn up in the Book of Life long before we were ever conceived, and would render us as worthless as a withered spring, for what use is a dry spring bed if it does not cradle and gently direct the course of the waters of life?
A withered spring is faith without action – faith without good works is just as impotent as good works without faith is meaningless. A withered spring follows a directionless course before terminating on a dry, cracked, saltless riverbed where the water drains away into seedless fissures, sparking no life, parching no plants, hydrating nothing. Our witnessing should be like a flash flood, an unstoppable torrent surging, rushing, flooding forward, secure in the canal of the Lord with its high banks of grace and mercy as it directs the living waters of Scripture throughout scorched, desiccated lands where the thirsty flock to its shores to drink deeply as it flows with sanctified purpose towards the ocean of its origin and source – our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Word of God is the water of life and should rush forth in great inundation, quenching the thirst of all who are spiritually parched. It should never comprise still waters, for this becomes a stagnant swamp. Inert faith (faith that does not witness the Gospels to the world at every available opportunity) is like a festering quagmire where the algae of spiritual apathy and disaffectedness creeps in, the sediment of earthly indolence and lassitude muddies visibility, and the rotting vegetation of worldly idleness and torpor clogs what should otherwise be pristine banks leading to clear waters of truth, hope and salvation.
Receiving the Holy Spirit into our hearts is nothing short of a cataclysmic event. Like the catastrophic bursting of a dam, the spiritual deluge of the Holy Spirit requires outlet. What enters us as the Spirit of Jesus must move through us and emerge as the Word of God shared freely with everyone we meet. We are but vessels through which the Holy Spirit moves, finding fullness not in our ability to contain it – to dam it – but in our capacity to channel it. The natural and most sacred voice we can grant so holy a presence in us is to witness the Word so that others might open their hearts and receive in enriched completeness the same Holy Spirit. We were never meant to function as reservoirs but as instead as straits. Giving in abundance to others the life-sustaining waters the Gospels does nothing to deplete or diminish its plenitude in us.
In fact, the more we send His Word out into the world to touch, transform and renew souls, the more effusively Jesus finds repose in us as we find sanctuary in Him. We apprehend and realize our true potential and purpose – the marvelous plan He appointed for our lives – when our faith, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, finds its most eloquent expression in witnessing the Word of God. This is as close as we can come in this life to fulfilling God’s divine purpose for us, ordained before the fall of Adam, redeemed through the ransom paid by the Son.
Boldly witnessing the Word of God is not easy. In a world subjected to Satan’s capricious, malicious snares and traps, expertly disguised as the fulfillment of worldly desires, the Word is not met with the joyful embrace of acceptance. The living waters of the Gospels find few outstretched hands clutching empty cups waiting to be filled. Ridicule, persecution, mockery, scorn, contempt and derision await those proclaiming the most holy writ. Many would prefer to gorge themselves on the grit and ash and dust of dissolution and self-gratification than to drink deeply of the water of life. In a world governed by Satan and putrefying rapidly under the caustic corrosion of indulgent sin and permissive depravity, the Word of God is met with hostility and aggression.
How do we endure and contest such vehement opposition? We resolve ourselves to steadfast constancy, we commit ourselves to stalwart fortitude, we brace ourselves against the storm. But most critically, we commend ourselves to prayer – vigorous, mighty, prodigious prayer. We suffer the slings and arrows. We train our thoughts towards our heavenly reward. And we persist in pouring forth the water of life by proclaiming the Gospels. For, like water seeping into cracks and fissures in bedrock, penetrating to softer, malleable clay beneath, so too does the Word find clefts and fractures to perforate even the stoniest of hearts.
Our natural state of being is obedience to God. We are interlopers in this hedonistic world. The Word forewarned that just as ‘the Son of Man has no place to rest his head’ (Luke 9:58), no place of refuge or retreat in a world belligerent to the Word, neither shall we. But we are also assured that ‘no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9) and by faith alone we must bring the Good News to all, that all might be reconciled to the Father through the Son to share in the bounty of eternal life in the Kingdom. Saved by grace, we are commissioned to good works through faith, and our reward lies not in this life but in the next. The living waters of Truth in the Word of God poured forth from us will find desert wastelands to irrigate, desolate tracts to quench, arid wilderness to inundate. Not all languish in willing consignment to decay. Many, perceiving the rancidness of the world’s empty promises, alarmed at the rapid decomposition of their lives, desperate to stem the deterioration of their souls, search bleak skies for the rains of hope.
The spiritually barren and emaciated but searching soul awaits the cup of living water we provide when we share munificently and unreservedly of the Word of God. It is for this purpose alone to which we are called and in this the fulfillment and fullness of our spirits finds superlative expression and glorifies our Redeemer, restoring us to divine communion with Him who alone can grant us peace and joy. It is worth every barb, every laceration, every insult, every abuse to bring just one lost sheep back to the loving shepherd.
We are therefore called to persevere in our sacred commission, bolster our spiritual fortitude, and buttress the very founding pillars of our faith through prayer to continue to unwaveringly advocate and augment the
We must not linger in torpid faith, hoarding the Good News (for we can no more stockpile the riches of the Holy Spirit than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle), but allow Jesus to make of us a holy conduit for the living waters of the Gospel to flood the world. Shared faith, generously conferred through the Word, delivers a return one hundred times that with which we part.
Be unafraid, for no greater breath is ever drawn than that which inflates the lung about to give voice to the Gospel of the Lord!
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