We thirst for God. Countless Old Testament stories recount the separation of humankind from the Creator, and the many ways that human pride has stood in the way of a deep, intimate, thirst-quenching relationship with God. Even after the earth has been restored after the great flood, humankind manages to turn away from the life-giving love of God, creating a monument to human pride in the form of the Tower of Babel in Genesis. As a consequence, man will be scattered over the earth, wandering, thirsting to reconnect.
All is not lost, however, as that thirst gives rise to prayer. Psalm 104 calls upon the Lord to send out [His] Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Christians read the Holy Spirit back into this song, though the original meaning of spirit returns in the fourth stanza of the psalm, noting, If you take away their breath, they perish… When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and renew the face of the earth. At Creation, God breathed life into man, and man remains confident that he will do so once again.
Our text from Romans, too, is fraught with anticipation, as Paul reassures the Roman community waiting for adoption, for final redemption in Christ Jesus. For new Christians, the Spirit is a help force, coming to the aid of our weakness, interceding for the holy ones, and offering us hope. From that place of anticipation, we groan within ourselves, thirsting for perfect union with God. And that union is the promise: John’s Gospel remind us that even before his death and resurrection, Jesus tells his disciples that he is the source of living water from which all who believe may drink, becoming in turn fonts of living water for other.
Ultimately, the Spirit is that which quenches our thirst, and allows us, in turn, to quench the thirst of others. As we prepare at the Vigil Mass for Pentecost Sunday, let us embrace our thirst, knowing that rivers of living water will soon flow from us as well.
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.