Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Source of Life

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We all know where to find the meaning of life: it is simply the Christian faith. It has been taught to us since we were children and know it like the back of our hands. But there remains a question for most of us that still unsettles our hearts – what is the source of life? Why is it that we hold with such strong conviction the belief that the Christian way is the path to fulfillment and happiness, and yet I am not full? And yet I am not always happy?

Thus life becomes a long quest for permanent, inward fulfillment. We have memorized the Holy Bible forwards and backwards, and we attend every liturgy, but our effort still lacks something. We cry out to God and feel that He bids us to still keep searching. Soon we realize that we are not searching so much for the meaning of life, as for its content; we do not desire to exchange our cup in life but are asking how to fill it to the brim with life-giving water. And when we find the answer and receive the fullness, it will be the most amazing miracle we have ever seen.

The miracle came upon the disciples in the Book of Acts. They too had been taught the meaning of life from our Lord's very lips for over three years. They had heard His teaching, had seen His miracles, and had witnessed His Ascension. And yet they remained a band of timid, vulnerable disciples quietly huddled in an upper room. They understood what their purpose in life was – the Lord had told them – but they could not bring themselves to live it. They had not the strength.

And one day, while they were gathered, a hurricane-like wind swirled in the room, and fire came down like lightning from Heaven – "and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). The source of life – the substance, fullness, and power of life – had finally come! It was the Holy Spirit. They were no longer passive hearers of Christ's words, but Spirit-bearing changers of the world. Peter then stood up and spoke with an almost reckless boldness about faith in Christ.

Friends, the Holy Spirit is missing from our lives! We can all see it: hoards of Coptic youth getting stuck in the mud of the world, drinking, flirting, wandering about from club to club, and passively accepting all the injuries of the world. Will we always be so weak? How long will we look identical to the "sons of disobedience"? "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4,5). When will we begin looking like living flames for God rather than dead wicks? Will the grace of the Holy Spirit ever flow out of us onto this lost world?

The answer begins with us: "the Holy Spirit who abides in you." He has been living in us since baptism, but as a subtle flame. We must ask Him, beg Him, to become a burning fire! This is the answer to our hollow selves. For when the Holy Spirit works in us and fills us, our inward life becomes transfigured, and our outward life becomes transformed and renewed. All those times in the past when we felt "happy" because "things are going well", what we thought was a good life was actually a momentary "giddiness". Oh, how temporary and futile! The Holy Spirit's fullness transcends all such circumstance and time. Your abilities do not have to be super, your friends do not have to be wonderful, and your life does not have to be extraordinary to receive this grace. You only need the Holy Spirit alive in you. Once you have a personal Pentecost in your life, things will never be the same.

~~~The Fathers Speak~~~

Wherever the Holy Spirit is present, He makes men of gold out of men of clay.

John Chrysostom
Commentary on Acts 2

Some say of Saint Anthony that he was "Spirit-borne," that is, carried along by the Holy Spirit...Such men see what is happening in the world, as well as knowing what is going to happen.

Anthony the Great
Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The Holy Spirit's coming is gentle; the perception of Him is fragrant; his burden is most easy; flashing rays of light and knowledge precede His coming….He comes to save, to heal, to teach, to admonish, to strengthen, to exhort, to enlighten the mind.

Cyril of Jerusalem
Catechetical Lectures

Consider the analogy of the sunbeam: each person on whom its kindly light falls rejoices as if the sun existed for him alone, yet it illumines land and sea and is master of the whole sky. In the same way, the Spirit is given to each person who receives Him as if He were the possession of that person alone, yet He sends forth sufficient grace to fill all the universe. Everything that partakes of His grace is filled with joy.

Basil the Great
On the Holy Spirit

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