Saturday, November 08, 2008

1st Reading-Nov 9, Feast: Dedication of the St John Lateran Basilica

(32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Old Calendar: Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Savior;
St. Theodore, martyr

From: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12

The Spring in the Temple

[1] Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. [2] Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

[8] And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. [9] And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.

[12] And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."

47:1-12. The vision of the spring revitalizing everything it meets on its flowing from the southern end of the way, is one of the most striking images temple and ending up in the Dead Sea, in the book. Its content is reminiscent of the vision of the bones (37:1-14): there, it was the Spirit that gave life to the dry bones; here, the water refreshes the dead waters. The image of the river reminds one of how in paradise (Gen 2:10-14) the four branches of the river make the whole garden beautiful; here, a single river actually gives life. Although the vision contains references to actual places, such as the oasis of En-gedi (v. 10), the Dead Sea or the Arabah, it is symbolic and what it shows is that the renewal of the temple and its worship will bring all sorts of advantages to the whole people.

There is an echo of this vision in the New Testament in the words of Jesus recorded by St John: “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'” (Jn 7:37). Early Christian tradition links this text of St John with Ezekiel’s vision, seeing in the spring in the temple the waters of Baptism that flow from Christ who is life, or from Christ’s side on the altar of the cross: We go down to the water’s edge steeped in our sins and impurity, and we walk out of the water, our hearts filled with grace, fear of the Lord and hope in Jesus” ("Epistula Barnabae" 11, 10).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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