Year B, Pentecost (Vigil) Mass

The Holy Spirit Empowers through Hard Times

June 11, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

Text: The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 7:37-39

In 1860 someone quite famous wrote in their journal:

"I have now been exerting myself, laboring, toiling, ever since I was a Catholic, not I trust ultimately for any person on earth, but for God above, but still with great desire to please those who put me in labor. After the Supreme Judgment of God, I have desired, though in a different order, their praise. But not only have I not got it, but I have been treated, in various ways, only with slight and unkindness...I have not retailed gossip, flattered great people, and sided with this or that party, I am nobody, I have no friend at Rome, I have be misrepresented, backbitten, and scorned... I seem to have many failures and what I did well was not understood."

Three years later this holy person writes,

"What is the good of living for nothing? O how forlorn and dreary has been my course since I have been a Catholic! Here has been the contrast---as a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life---but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion....It began when I set my face towards Rome; and, since I made the great sacrifice, to which God called me, He has rewarded me in ten thousand ways. O how many! But He has marked my course with almost unintermittent mortification. Few indeed successes has it been His blessed will to give me through life. I doubt whether I can point to any joyful event of this world besides my scholarship at Trinity and my fellowship at Oriel --- but since I have been a Catholic, I seem to myself to have nothing but failure, personally."

During his life -- Weary and almost worn out, John Newman was named a cardinal of the Church and there is now a cause for his beatification and eventual canonization.

In 1978, the writer of these notes to his journal - became the "Venerable John Cardinal Newman."

WE may consider OUR own issues of being misunderstood and personal feelings of failure that we might have within us. But, everything is in God's timing - and all of it, yes, all is for the greater glory of God alone!

From the purely human and shallow perspective, some would view Jesus as a failure, as they may look at this passage showing Jesus crying out to a crowd on the last day and greatest day of the festival to anyone that would listen to him!

It was imperative that this message be proclaimed no matter what the cost! For Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Yahweh was the path he chose in obedience to his Father!

The Venerable John Cardinal Newman understood suffering and the Joy that it brings when done for God alone, and countless others, have discovered the road to true happiness and glory is the way of the Cross, the "via cruces" that Jesus led the way for all of us who have come thereafter.

May we see that Jesus was not lamenting as some defeated Prophet.

Jesus was proclaiming the Way of God to Joy!

Ven. John Cardinal Newman, was seeing the same thing.

He realized that his real Treasure was the Living Water in his earthen vessel.

The Gospel of Saint John records --

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.

Are you thirsty?

In only a short time, a matter of months to a few short years, it would be the Lord Jesus, hanging upon a Cross who would say, "I Thirst." Yet, here the Water of Life speaks, only thinking of the good he might give to those who realize theior own absolute need for water, the Water of Life!

Many of us forget that we are made up of 70-80 percent water.

Like wise, spiritually for all of us, we absolutely need Jesus, the Living Water for us!

38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

To believe in Jesus means to trust in Jesus and follow him in obedience to Baptism.

Yet, our Lord proclaims a wondrous thing -- 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'

What a statement!

Someone has said -- "When a man turns to the Lord, he is like a fountain filled with living water, and rivers flow from him to men of all nations and tribes." Beloved of God, God's people are not called to become stagnant pools, or reservoirs which only receive and never give forth, but our calling (our vocation as laity and clergy) is to be rivers, which constantly give because they have in themselves the fountain of Living Water, the Lord Jesus!

And, this is even more poignant when we consider at Mass that we receive the Body and Blood (mixed with Water) at the Mass that we might become rivers that flow out of the parish and pew into the hearts and lives of people everywhere as witnesses, and yes, even martyrs for Christ Jesus who led the way to the Cross, saying - follow me!

We cannot do this though by ourselves. We have this Treasure in earthen vessels.

39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Beloved of God a perpetual spring in a vessel must overflow the vessel in which it is, the smallness of the vessel. There is no limit to the river. The vessels must overflow, thus... Pentecost!

At Pentecost, they, the disciples, would become the Apostles and empowered to overflow with that Water from their vessels!

And, we have received of their overflow.

May others receive of ours!

Thus, we are called upon to see the rivers of Living Water, rather than to concentrate upon the earthen vessel that we are.

The attention of the people who heard this message - One Man standing alone crying out to the people!

Sometimes, it takes only one to stand-alone against all opposition, following Jesus Christ in the way of the Cross...

Mary did this in following Jesus to the Cross-she stands with us today in the wilderness where we walk with God alone! WE discover others are thirsty and we offer them the Water of Life that comes from God alone.

Yes...'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'

Deus et Sanctissima.