On the Feast of Pentecost
by Saint Theodore the Studite
By the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, we have been vouchsafed to celebrate Holy Pentecost—the descent of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ said of this descent: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (that is, the Holy Spirit), will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. (Jn. 16:7, 13). This, His promise and benefit, is so great that we cannot even comprehend it: for the Lord promised to send not an Angel, not a man, but the Holy Spirit Himself.
Thus, having fulfilled the will of His Father, the Only Begotten Son ascends to heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends: not another God (never!), but another Comforter, as it is written. O, the unutterable love for mankind! God Himself has become our Comforter. Thus, He Himself comforts those who are weighed down by misfortune, prevents them from becoming exhausted in spirit, as the Holy Apostle testifies, saying: Our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us (2 Cor. 7:5–6). He comforts the heart frightened by demonic fear, raising it up to invincible courage through bold hope, as the Prophet David testifies: For Thou, O Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me (Ps. 85:17). He comforts, encouraging the troubled mind, as it has been given a feast with God and rest, as the Apostle testifies, saying: as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20); that is, have peace, with God.
Do you see the unsearchable condescension? Do you see the incomparable gift? On high, in the Heavens, the Only Begotten Son intercedes for us before the Father, as it is written: Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). Below, on the earth, the Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways.
What shall I render unto the Lord, for all that He has rendered unto me? (Ps. 115:4). Is it not true, what the psalm says: All my bones shall say, Lord, O Lord, who is like unto Thee? Delivering the beggar from the hand of them that are stronger than he, yea, poor man and pauper from them that despoil him(Ps. 34:11). And again, My help cometh from the Lord, Who hath made heaven and the earth (Ps. 120:2). Unless the Lord had brought me up, my soul had well nigh sojourned in hades (Ps. 93:17), The Lord is my helper, and I shall not fear what man shall do unto me (Ps. 117:6).
Having such a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Invincible Power, Great Defender—God and Co-fighter, we shall not be afraid of the enemy and shall not be frightened by opposing powers, but shall courageously and steadfastly hasten to the struggle and feat, experiencing them day after day, not being deluded by the deceptions of the snake, and not growing weary from his ceaseless attacks. Sinful desire is not pleasure and joy, and a dangerous and fearsome sickness is not sweetness, but rather delirium and wicked darkening of the mind. They know this, who have tamed the fury of the flesh, cleansed its defilement, and cleaved with all their hearts to the One God. This manner of life is the most pleasant and happy; for in it, although a man be in the flesh in the world, in spirit he abides in the unseen, resting in spirit through the grace-filled breath of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we allow love of pleasure to conquer us, to so debase us, and by such deviations to cause us who, brought low to the earth, to flesh and blood, to be completely alienated from our Most Good God? Let us flee, brothers, from all the passions. Let us flee love of money, which is the root of all evil; let us flee every other passion that enslaves our soul—anger, envy, hatred, vanity, self-will; so that death may not find us unprepared and distance us from God. Alienation from God is alienation also from the Kingdom of Heaven. Condemnation and punishment will come to those who do not do works pleasing to God. There is no flesh that can endure this condemnation, for the mere thought of it, even before consignment to torments, is already a torment.
In order that we might escape the wrath of God, which comes upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6), let us do good works, that the Lord may rejoice in His works (Ps. 103:33).
Let us begin unfailingly toplease God, to purify ourselves, and renew our souls. Take courage: The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him, to all that call on Him in truth (Ps. 144:19). Let us repent daily, and God will forgive us our sins, comfort us, and grant us Life Eternal—which may we receive in Christ the Lord Himself; to Him is due glory and sovereignty, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.