Speak Lord: Of the water of life

Jordan Caesarea Philipi

The Mass of the 31st Sunday, last Sunday, was displaced by the feast of All Saints, at least in England and Wales. The Mass of the 32nd Sunday, next Sunday, is displaced by the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

The Lateran Basilica is the Cathedral of Rome. Rome is in some sense the mother church, the centre of our communion on earth – and so Rome’s Cathedral the mother of all cathedrals! And so, the celebration of its dedication, the remembering of its purpose and the nature of the Church, is rather important.

The first reading for the Mass of the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica comes from Ezekiel and offers a symbolic, prophetic account of the flourishing enabled by the grace of communion with God, in the community of faith, for the sake of the world.

The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

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

The fresh water of the prophetic vision flows down through desert, into the famously poisonous Dead Sea and on and beyond. And every inch of the way, life and freshness are gifted.

  • What gives you the opportunity for new life?
  • What deadness and dryness could you bring to the mercy of God for refreshment and renewal?

Providing a photo of a prophetic, symbolic stream is beyond my abilities! But the image at the head of the page is of another richly symbolic river, the Jordan photgraphed here at its source at Banias, Caesarea Philippi. The water symbolises faith and profession of faith, baptism with its dual aspects of purification and incorporation. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

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