This reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Nov. 9, 2014:
In today’s readings, we hear a lot about temples. The Responsorial Psalm is the only part that doesn’t mention them. But the Psalm and the first reading have something else in common: water.
In Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel, Jesus has His discourse with the Samaritan woman about “living water.” As He puts it in verses thirteen and fourteen, “Everyone who drinks this water [from Jacob’s well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In a way, this Sunday’s first reading gives us an example of this living water in action. Through Christ and His followers, it flows out of God’s temple and into the world beyond, bringing life, peace, and goodness wherever it goes.
This “living water” could almost be considered the waters of Baptism, as John 4:1-3 (just before Jesus’s conversation with the Samaritan woman) says, “Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was baptizing and making more disciples than John (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), he left Judea and returned to Galilee.” If this were the case, then Ezekiel’s vision would make perfect sense–the angel would have been showing him the coming of God’s Kingdom here on earth, through the Church God Himself was to establish.
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.” When Christianity permeates everyday life, everyday life is fresh and joyful; God’s human creatures–symbolized in the prophecy by “every sort of living creature,” fish, and trees–bear good fruit and thrive, at all times. Nothing can stop them because the power of God is with them.
The line about the fish is particularly intriguing: “And there shall be abundant fish.” A fish was one of the first symbols of Christianity. The Christians–if they are symbolized by the fish–are meant to live in abundance in this water flowing from the temple, helping God to bring the fresh tide of the faith to all the people of the world.
I can’t say for certain that the typological interpretations I present here are entirely accurate, but the principles certainly are. As Our Lord tells us, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). Whatever our occupation or vocation, we are intended to bring Jesus to those around us, through word and example. In humility and love, we are meant to live the Faith to the fullest, in every way possible.
Salt water, which can be mistaken for fresh water, has different properties from fresh water: while fresh water is necessary for human life, too much salt water will harm and kill it. The same principle applies to the ways of God as opposed to the ways of the world. God’s “fresh water” is necessary for eternal life; but too much of mankind’s “salt water” will hold no more reward for us than eternal death. Many people think that hope and salvation are to be found in the “salt water” offered by man. They mistake lies for truth, and deception for salvation, in the same way that dehydrated seamen try to drink salt water in order to save themselves.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”–Jesus (Mt 28:19-20).
by Cameron Daly