How wonderful and powerful the Orthodox Christian Worship Services are! We hear in the hymns for this week, a plea to the almighty to refresh our souls in the troparion of the Mid-Feast from this past Wednesday!
“Midway in the Feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the flowing waters of piety. For you cried to all o Savior, “Let him who thirsts come to me and drink”. You O Christ our God, are the fountain of life…Glory to You!”
Like a caring mother who sees her children who are stumbling, the Church reminds each and every one of us who are stumbling throughout life, to thirst for Divine Nourishment that comes from the Life Giving Water of God Himself.
We thirst for so many things in this life, and nothing ever seems to satisfy our wants and our desires. When we were children, whether it was through an allowance or through birthday gifts, we would say to ourselves: ”If I just had a little bit more...I could get THIS toy.” And when we finally got that special toy, we were fulfilled for a little while, until the next best thing came out.
A few years after we outgrew the need for toys, I’m sure most of us remember our first car. Whether it was an exploding Pinto or an AMC Gremlin (or in my case, a completely rusted out 85 Mustang, where every time you shut the door, a new piece of the car would fall off) regardless of what it was, everyone remembers their first car. We remember that first bit of freedom, and the ability to sit in the driver’s seat and say “this is my car” with pride! But that feeling, just like the joy of a new toy, eventually subsided, and we started to thirst for the next best thing. We searched for something with a little more bells and whistles, or at least, something that would always start when you turned the key!
Not all of our thirsting has to do with money or possessions! In today’s world, we as human beings crave popularity. We want likes on our social media. We want the most friends. We thirst for power. “Thirsting” is something that is common in all of God’s creation! But we are reminded today…that even if we are able to temporarily quench our wants and desires…we are alwaysleft wanting more.
For those of you who know Greek Mythology, you know the story of King Tantalus who was punished to the underworld and chained into a freshwater lake. He was chained in such a way, that the water from the lake only reached up to his chin. In a cruel twist of fate however, whenever Tantalus bent over to try and quench his burning thirst, the water would recede just far enough out of his reach, so that he couldn’t satisfy the burning in his throat.
Of course, being chained for eternity with no opportunity for food, also left the king extremely hungry. To torture him more, over the king’s head were branches of the best looking fruit that you can imagine. Yet, every time the king would raise his head to satisfy his hunger, a mighty wind would come and blow the branches out of the reach of his mouth. The king wanted nothing more than to nourish himself with the things of the earth, but for all eternity, he was left frustrated at being unable to quench his burning thirst.
I know that even if you haven’t heard the story before, you know the King’s name very well, because it is where we get the English word “tantalize”.
For us, like King Tantalus, the things that we try and satisfy this innate inner thirst within all of us are extremely tantalizing. The money, the power, the popularity…all of these things are attractive to us! But we learn today that these things are ultimately a waste of our efforts.
“Whoever drinks of this water, will thirst again…”
The very reason we were put on this earth was not to pursue things of this world, but to hunger and thirst after God Himself. This is why we were created. This is our true purpose in life! And it is accomplished in several different ways.
The first, and most obvious, is the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, which we unworthily draw near to at every Divine Liturgy. We will be filled with the very Body and Blood of God Himself, bringing us into a union with Him that goes beyond human description.
But we also learn something very interesting in the Gospel lesson this morning with the Samaritan Woman. In this passage from John, we see the only time that we are told that the Father seeks something from His creation:
“The Hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
Our thirst in this life will never be quenched, unless we live our lives for the reason that we were created: To worship and draw near to the Living God.
We mentioned in our Metanoia Class this past week, that noneof those Saints on our walls (all of who were able to quench the thirst of their lives with Christ) ever limited their relationship with God to 2 hours on a Sunday Morning. They knew that quenching their thirst in this life with God Himself, needed to be the biggest part of their lives. Brothers and sisters in Christ…its needs to be the biggest part of our livesas well.
Making an effort to draw the living water through worship, both here as a family, and at home privately, is VITAL to our humanity. To do anything else…to place a priority on anything else…is to deny who we are as human beings. To live in a way contrary to our true purpose, would be to live like King Tantalus, unable to quench our inner thirst for something that is greater than ourselves.
“Our hearts were made for Thee O Lord,” St. Augustine Says, “and they are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
Let us live lives that coincide with our true purpose, brother and sisters in Christ. Let us echo the psalms, which guide us in our worship to God by saying: “As a heart longs for flowing streams…so longs my soul for Thee O God. My soul thirsts for God…for the living God.” Amen