Today, restlessness is becoming more of the characteristic of the life-style of the modern man. We are looking for something; we are searching here and there, moving up and down, changing this and that, and looking far and wide for what we do not even seem to know well, though almost sure that something is amiss.
There is a common belief and well founded that man need not be so worried because he or she is part of the solution of most of his or her problems. And this is true because much of the problems we face are in fact man made!
In other words, in order to solve a number of our problems, we may start searching for the solutions from within ourselves. A number of solutions to our problems are in fact within our reach.
In the line above, there is a common story which you might have heard several times of a great sailing ship stranded for weeks on the sea. As the supply of fresh water ran out, the captain was so worried that the crew was soon dying of thirst.
All of a sudden and to their relief, a steamship appeared on the far horizon. The desperate captain shouted on top of his voice asking for water. His request was met with a wide smile from the sailor on the passing ship, as he shouted back: “Lower your buckets right there, where you are.”
The captain thought he was being mocked but being so desperate, he called out again for help. Again he got the same treatment as the steamer sailed away. As every body went below to prepare for death, a young sailor, from his hiding place and half crazy with thirst lowered a bucket into the sea just to find out how salty the water might be.
To his surprise, he was testing sweet and fresh water! The men on the steamer were right. Without knowing it, they had been floating for so many days on top of the fresh water of a great river which cuts deep into the sea from the main land. It was a great relief for all the crew.
It is interesting to note that Christians get the same relief each year as they celebrate the feast of Pentecost. During this celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christians meditate on the visit of the Risen Christ to the disciples huddled in fear. “Peace be with you,” he says.
“As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and added, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn20:19-23) And with these words the disciples remembered what Jesus had told them earlier on: “When the advocate comes, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses.” (Jn15:26).
In a way similar to the stranded sailors above, the liturgy of Pentecost reminds us something very essential: What we are really seeking is already inside us, and it is waiting to be discovered, it is waiting to be embraced.
From the first moment of our baptism, the Holy Spirit of God has been dwelling within us. We have not been alone. God’s very life, breath and energy live in us.
Now we know that all along we have had that unifying Spirit that crosses the artificial boundaries of language, race and culture.
We have been carrying within us the “fruit of the Spirit” which should be manifested in true love, joy, peace, endurance to long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control.
At this very moment, the Holy Spirit is saying to us: “Lower your buckets where you are. Taste and see! Drink deeply of the divine life only I can give.” When we pay attention to this inner life, then we relate differently to the Word of God.
For the heart which approaches it with faith and desire, the Word is always alive and active. It cuts finely between the secret emotions of our hearts.
Then, something happens within us; it judges us, challenges us, rebukes us, enlightens and consoles us. When we cooperate, it gives us hope and energy and life, it forms our way of thinking and purifies our memories and imagination and it changes and reforms our lives.
Finally, it makes us realize how small-minded we are and how magnificent is the patience, the purpose and the plans of our loving God for us. Knowing our limitations will help us not to hesitate whenever the Spirit tells us to ‘lower the bucket’.
Let Pentecost be a reminder to us all that we are Christ’s witnesses. Let it remind us that our personal witness can set so many others on the move and that it can give so much life and hope to those in pain. But in order to achieve this we must first of all keep the fire in us burning.