In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India: Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.
“I have mastered a science,” said the first, “by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it.”
“I,” said the second, “know how to grow that creature’s skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones.”
The third said, “I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair.”
“And I,” concluded the fourth, “know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete.”
Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialities. One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave it life. Unfortunately, the bone they had found was that of a massive tiger. When he woke, he shook his head and then the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle.
For me, shopping is best done online in the privacy of my own home. When I need something outside of the normal day-to-day items (and even for some of them), my first place to shop is Amazon. They are taking over the world. You know that, right? But they have what I’m looking for. When I absolutely have to go to the stores… let’s be honest here… I just add it to the cousin’s shopping list and let her get if for me. There was something I needed though and she couldn’t go (some excuse or another… maybe it was the flu), so I had to go for myself. While I was there, I remembered I was running low on toothpaste. The blue Colgate with the little fresh strips in it. Did you know that there is what seems like an entire aisle dedicated to toothpaste? I eventually found mine, but said to myself on the way out of the store, “Bet I could get this on Amazon.” It use to be Colgate or Crest, now we have options. Too many options. You don’t want sugar, well you’ve got Sweet-n-Low, Splenda, Equal, Stevia, Agave Nectar, and I’m sure a few more and the bread aisle is no better. We’ve got all sorts of options for food, but it doesn’t end there. Fox News or CNN. Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet. Heck, we’ve even got some pretty good options when we don’t want to talk to people: the grocery store has self checkout, you can buy an audible book and have someone read to you, and given a fast enough computer and internet connection, you can jump off into a fantasy world of your own creation where you are god. And speaking of God, we’ve even got options for Him. We’ve got the god of science, self, technology, money, sex, reason, you name it and we can and will create it and worship it, because we choose one of these options instead of choosing the one true God.
James posted a quote from a book that I need to read: Discover the Power Within You. The quote: “There is something of Judas in you and me, and it is a very real influence in our lives. We believe in things of the Spirit, but we desire the things of the flesh.” We choose the flesh, we choose one of those options instead of choosing God. Why? Because our souls are thirsty. Our souls can become parched, and we allow the Judas within to search for something to quench our thirst instead of looking to God. In the process of creating our world, of giving it flesh and bones and breathing life into it, we may mistakenly give life to a beast that seeks only to destroy us. We forget, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one,” so we drink in all that our society has to offer while forgetting that there is only One who can truly quench our thirst. Jesus says, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” But we forget and we look elsewhere.
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, book four: The Silver Chair. The books are a way of speaking about the things of God and in them, God is represented by the Lion, Aslan. In The Silver Chair, we hear of the adventures of Eustace and Jill, both young children. At one point they become separated. Jill has seen the lion before, but she does not know Him and so is terrified of him. As she wanders through the magical land of Narnia she becomes tired, hungry and very thirsty. She comes to a place where…
The birds had ceased singing and there was perfect silence except for one small, persistent sound, which seemed to come from a good distance away. She listened carefully, and felt almost sure it was the sound of running water.
Jill got up and looked round her very carefully. There was no sign of the lion; but there were so many trees about that it might easily be quite close without her seeing it. But her thirst was very bad now, and she plucked up her courage to go and look for that running water.
The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer every moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone’s throw away from her. But although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward to drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned to stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: Just on this side of the stream lay the Lion.
How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.
Then a voice.
“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.”
For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again,
“If you are thirsty, come and drink.”
It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice.
“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Do you eat girls?” she asked fearfully.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
There is no other stream. There is only one source of the life giving water and it is given only through the Lion, the Lion of Judah — Jesus. And that water is the Spirit of God. Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Scripture then adds, “Now [Jesus] said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
As we read today from the Acts of the Apostles, “When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Like Jill who wanted to go and find another stream to drink from, we too can look for other options in the gods of science, self, technology, money, sex, reason, but from none of them will we find the true Spirit of God from which to drink. We will only find that hungry, never satisfied beast. Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Jesus offers each of us life giving water to drink. Jesus gives each of us the Holy Spirit of God to drink in and quench our thirst. Why chase after feeble, dead substitutes?
St. Josemaría Escrivá asks us, “Why stoop to drink from the puddles of worldly consolation if you can satisfy your thirst with waters that spring up into life everlasting?”
Today is the day of Pentecost. It is the day of birth of the Church. It is the giving of the Spirit of God. It is the day the fire fell. It is the day that the thirst of God’s people was quenched. Drink. Drink deeply and the rivers of living water will spring forth from your soul.
Let us pray: Come, Spirit of God, with God the Father’s love, by Christ’s body and blood; in the new birth of Your own breath. Come to cover our littleness and consume our sins, to direct all our desires and doings; come with counsel for our perplexities, with light from Your everlasting scriptures; come to reveal the deep things of God, and what He has prepared for those that love Him; come with Your prayer into ours. Amen.