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Tuesday, Fourth Week of Lent

March 20, 2007

Blessed Tuesday!

Readings:
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 (the vision of the stream flowing from the temple)
Psalm 46:2-9 “The mighty Lord is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge”
+John 5:1-16 (the Sabbath healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda)

What a wealth of Baptismal images we have today! Water flows from the
temple in Ezekiel’s vision, deepening as it flows until it can no longer
be crossed by wading, but only by swimming. Wherever it goes, it brings
life, making salt water fresh, abounding with fish and nourishing all
kinds of living creatures. Trees flourish along its banks, bearing
fruit for food each month, and leaves for medicine. This echoes the
image of heaven described in Revelation 22:1-2:

“The angel then showed me the river of life-giving water, clear as
crystal, which issued from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowed
down the middle of the streets. On either side of the river grew the
trees of life which produce fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
their leaves serve as medicine for the nations.”

So what does this water represent and where does it come from?

The water is the Holy Spirit, in Whom we are immersed in Baptism.

“I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground and streams upon the dry
land; I will pour out my Spirit upon your offspring…they shall spring
up amidst the verdure like poplars beside the flowing waters.” -Isaiah
44:3-4

Jesus said, “Let anyone who thirsts come to Me and drink. Whoever
believes in Me, as Scripture says: ‘Rivers of living Water will flow
from within him’ (He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who
came to believe in Him were to receive)” -John 7:37-39.

“Before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” -Acts 1:5

Pope John Paul II drew on this passage, and continued: “‘Baptized'”
means “immersed” in the Holy Spirit: this is expressed by the rite of
immersion in water during Baptism.” – General Audience July 5, 1989

“It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether slave or free, were
baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one
Spirit” -I Corinthians 12:13

This living water flows from the temple. The temple is Jesus’ earthly
body:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it up’…He spoke of the temple of His body” -John
2:19, 21

“One of the soldiers thrust a lance into His side, and immediately blood
and water flowed out.” -John 19:34

This temple is also Jesus’ mystical Body (the Church).

“You, then are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of
it.” -I Corinthians 12:27

“You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and
prophet, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone. Through Him the
whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in
the Lord; in Him you are being built into this temple, to become a holy
dwelling place for God in the Spirit.” -Ephesians 2:20-22

Finally, the temple is the body of each believer:

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells
in you?” -1 Corinthians 3:16 (and refer to John 7:37-39, quoted above).

From all this we see that the life-giving water of the Holy Spirit comes
to us and through us in varied ways. He comes from Jesus directly, from
His pierced side. He comes to us through His Church, especially in the
Sacrament of Baptism, but also in each of the other Sacraments. He
brings healing in the Sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the
Sick, like the leaves growing along the stream that serve as medicine.
He brings nourishment and strengthening in Holy Communion and
Confirmation, as the trees produce fruit for food each month. In the
Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders, He provides the means for new
“little fishes” (an ancient symbol of Christians) to be born and reborn
into the Church.

The Holy Spirit also comes to us through individual Christians within
the Church who are living out their Baptismal promises. In addition,
the Holy Spirit flows to others through us as we live out our own
Baptismal promises.

Even as the river grew progressively deeper, so our life in the Holy
Spirit must become deeper and deeper until we can no longer “touch
bottom”, until we completely surrender ourselves to this water and let
Him buoy us up and take us where He wants us to go.

The paralytic at the sheep pool in Jerusalem wanted to surrender
himself to healing waters, but they were inaccessible to him–until
Jesus came. Jesus, the original source of this living water, invited
him to receive the baptism, the immersion, he’d been waiting for
all his life. It healed his body. Jesus later challenged him to let
it heal his soul as well.

May we immerse ourselves in the Holy Spirit, in a constant living-out of
our Baptism, receiving this life-giving water from Jesus, from the
Church and from our fellow Christians. May this same Holy Spirit well
up within us, that we may be full of life, purifying the stagnant water
of our culture by our very presence, and providing nourishment and
medicine for all who are spiritually (and physically) hungry and infirm.

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